back to article Clip, clip, hooray: NASA says it will send Clipper probe to Europa, will attempt no landing there

NASA has confirmed its Europa Clipper spacecraft will head off to the Jovian moon in search of signs of life and a landing zone for future exploration. Europa has fascinated astroboffins since it was discovered that the moon has an ocean albeit one under a thick layer of ice. The water, it turns out, is heated, and kept liquid …

  1. hitmouse

    Re: "Fall Creators Update"

    The Clipper will use radar to map out the surface of Europa for possible purchase offers from President Trump. In a NASA briefing he said "Now that the United Kingdom of England is leaving Europa, people are saying that we should step in so America can have the best moons and make the solar system great again. "

    1. chrisw67
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Fall Creators Update"

      Well played, Sir.

  2. Woza
    Headmaster

    Nitpick

    "Scientists think that if there is life as we know it in the Solar System, Europa is a top spot for it to be found..."

    Might I suggest Earth as a more likely location?

    (Of course, if we're talking about _intelligent_ life, I withdraw the comment)

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Nitpick

      Hey, I'm sure the dolphins resent that remark!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Nitpick

        ...and don't forget the mice!!

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Nitpick

      Agreed, Europa is more likely to be the top spot for "life as we don't know it"...

  3. DougS Silver badge

    We seem to be unable to adequately sterilize our spacecraft

    What with our introduction of tardigrades onto the Moon, so we will have to be damn careful about drilling/melting our way into the ice to the ocean underneath that we don't do an Aztec number on whatever life there is, or find tardigrades that can't be sure were already there or were brought along from Earth...

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: We seem to be unable to adequately sterilize our spacecraft

      Oh if only we had thought to do trials in a similar sort of situation here on Earth. Except we did, in the Lakes under the Antarctic Ice. The Russians did it and the Americans (I think, might have had European input too) and LIFE was found an analysed and the difficulty of the taks assessed and design efforts for how to drill the Europan ice go on apace.

      We have to hope the ice, top layer at least isn't as hard as the ice on that comet which got landed on. The testing hammer broke at 'harder than concrete'. Europan ice should be younger and more turned over than the comet's but if they happen to land on the oldest section . . .

    2. tony72

      Re: We seem to be unable to adequately sterilize our spacecraft

      I think the major national space agencies are pretty careful about that stuff. The tardigrades episode shows that, as space gets opened up to private entities, they may well not be so careful if they are left to police themselves.

    3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: We seem to be unable to adequately sterilize our spacecraft

      A lot of steps are taken to make sure we don't transmit microbes to other planets. (Remember the tardigrades were deliberately carried into space. And they remain in suspended animation - although if any did hitchike to Europa, they might reanimate in the ocean.)

      It's probable that life on Europa won't be compatible with Terran life. So viruses won't be an issue - even if it Europan life uses DNA/RNA (unless Hoyle and Wickramasinghe were right). The risk is life from earth out competing or poisoning Europan life - or just plain eating it. So more Australia than America.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: We seem to be unable to adequately sterilize our spacecraft

        It is quite possible that earthly life and Europa-life could have a common origin, because bodies in the solar system exchange material, thanks to large asteroid strikes.

        1. Citizens untied

          Re: We seem to be unable to adequately sterilize our spacecraft

          Taking the bait...

          but I am pretty sure my dad explained that "bodies exchanging material" plays a big part in the creation of life.

          1. M.V. Lipvig

            Re: We seem to be unable to adequately sterilize our spacecraft

            Nice, so we may be on the hook for child support shortly after Earth DNA gets injected into Europa's oceans.

  4. KittenHuffer

    I thought they'd already been!

    I seem to remember seeing a documentary about the trip a few years ago.

    Ah, here it is .... Europa Report

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: I thought they'd already been!

      That was not a bad film. Unusually good science content for sci-fi, although to allow for a more interesting plot, they assume Europa has places where the ice is quite thin, and the radiation from Jupiter does not seem to bother the intrepid explorers.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the desired result of th emission is clear. No life should be found . Then it would be easy to get water from Europe into space (easier than from earth) for space station throughout the solar system.

    1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
      Happy

      for space station supermarkets throughout the solar system.

      Fixed that for you. No capitalist worth his salt would let such an obvious opportunity slip by.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All these worlds are yours – except Europa. Attempt no landing there. Use them together. Use them in peace

    1. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Is this from BoJo, Priti Patel, Mark Francois or Dominic Cummings ???

    2. red floyd

      Only if you watched the movie.

      If you read the book...

      All these worlds are yours -- except Europa. Attempt no landing there.

  7. Kane Silver badge
    Boffin

    JUICE

    "JUpiter ICy moons Explorer"

    They really struggled with that one, didn't they?

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

      Re: JUICE

      "JUpiter ICy moons Explorer"

      Personally, I would have stuck with "JUICY Explorer" just to make some folks' heads explode

  8. fishman

    Not landing

    Seems silly to go all the way to Europa and not bring a lander. It might be 20 years or more before another mission is sent.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Not landing

      Whose $300m are you going to spend to do it? Or perhaps 10 times that if if you wanted to get to the interesting stuff (the water) and report back. It's a lot of money to spend (and a lot of scientific careers) to blow on perhaps a 15 year project that would be incredibly speculative and have little chance of success since there isn't the detail yet to properly plan such a mission. That's what these two missions will get.

      It's easy to say you want the results now but resources are limited and to get any slice of the pie you have to show you are not needlessly pissing money against the wall.

      1. M.V. Lipvig

        Re: Not landing

        Not to mention, they don't even know what will be needed to make a landing to begin with, or if it will even be possible, nor do they know what sort of protection a lander would need. This probe is necessary to figure out how to land successfully.

        They didn't even land on the Moon first go. Apollo 8 and 10 were flyby missions whose sole purpose was to fly there and back to see if it was possible, and to take a bunch of close-up pictures of the Moon prior to landing.

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