Europa Orbiter

Europa Orbiter scanning Europa

Europa Orbiter is a proposed follow-on mission to Galileo that would probe Europa's surface with a radar sounder in an attempt to determine the thickness of the ice and locate any ice-water interface. Other instruments include an imaging device capable of resolving surface detail as small as 100 meters and an altimeter for accurately measuring the topography and movements of the surface in response to tidal stresses.


The Europa Orbiter is intended to serve as a precursor to other projects to sample the Europan surface and, eventually, to penetrate the top layers of ice to discover exactly what lies underneath (see Europa, future probes). The future of the Orbiter hangs in the balance after it was excluded from the proposed NASA budget for 2007.