NASA has just published its budget for 2016, and in it, we discover that $ 255 million will be used over 5 years to send a satellite around Europe, one of the moons of Jupiter.
The Space Agency indicates in passing that it will be the very first large-scale program bound for Europe, allowing to lead to the sending of probes making it possible to study the chemical composition of the oceans located under the layer of ice. from the moon.
Scientists have already looked into the various means by which a probe can access the liquid part of the moon's oceans. Some methods involve propelling profiled probes like torpedoes, others suggest laser drilling with UV rays to sterilize tools. However, initially, the mission will opt for a more traditional approach.
The first objective will be to position a satellite in orbit around Europe. Called Europa Clipper, the satellite will tour Europe 45 times in a period ranging from 3 to 5 years. NASA hopes to carry as many tools as possible in the satellite, including a radar allowing it to cross the ice layer, an infrared spectrometer, a topographic camera or even an ion trap mass spectrometer allowing it to analyze the atmosphere 'Europe.