Europa, future probes

In the light of the extraordinary findings of the Galileo spacecraft and the success of its extended investigation, the Galileo Europa Mission, a number of future missions were evaluated with an eye to finding out more about Europa and, in particular, whether it has a sub-surface ocean of liquid water and, possibly, even life. The first of these is likely to be the Europa Orbiter, which could serve as a precursor to other, more ambitious projects for which proposals have been considered. Among the ideas that have been looked at for exploring Europa beyond the Orbiter are:


Europa Ice Clipper:– a flyby mission to obtain samples of Europa using an impact sampling method. As the Clipper approached the moon it would release a 10-kilogram hollow copper sphere on an impact trajectory. The spacecraft would then divert to fly through the plume of surface material thrown out by the collision of the sphere.


Europa Ocean Explorer (Icepick):– a mission to soft land on Europa and explore what lies beneath its icy crust with cryobots and hydrobots. Some of the techniques and instrumentation required by this project were developed as part of NASA's Europa Vostok Initiative.