Pin It

It all began on a clear night in 1610 AD. Galileo Galilei caught glimpses of four bodies that would later bear his name — the Galilean Moons. Because Jupiter’s largest satellites were so bright, Galileo called them, “stars.”

Over the centuries, Europa, the most luminous of all the Galilean moons, has provided an abundance of mysteries. These culminated in what may have been a literal explosion in December 2012, when a cloud of water vapor was seen 20 miles over its south pole. This eruption was tiny on the cosmic scale, but enormous in its importance to astrobiology.

Outside of Earth, Europa may be the most hospitable home for life inside the Solar System. Four billion years of tidal heating and a liquid ocean may have given rise to something we can identify as life. A man-made satellite in the Jovian system could potentially capture traces of that life in the water vapor shooting from Europa’s surface. Yet, in spite of the exciting science, a dedicated mission to Jupiter hasn’t launched in a generation.

That could all change if the Europa Clipper were built.

- See more at: http://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/ship-of-dreams/#sthash.kO4yFg4K.dpuf

It all began on a clear night in 1610 AD. Galileo Galilei caught glimpses of four bodies that would later bear his name — the Galilean Moons. Because Jupiter’s largest satellites were so bright, Galileo called them, “stars.”

Over the centuries, Europa, the most luminous of all the Galilean moons, has provided an abundance of mysteries. These culminated in what may have been a literal explosion in December 2012, when a cloud of water vapor was seen 20 miles over its south pole. This eruption was tiny on the cosmic scale, but enormous in its importance to astrobiology.

Outside of Earth, Europa may be the most hospitable home for life inside the Solar System. Four billion years of tidal heating and a liquid ocean may have given rise to something we can identify as life. A man-made satellite in the Jovian system could potentially capture traces of that life in the water vapor shooting from Europa’s surface. Yet, in spite of the exciting science, a dedicated mission to Jupiter hasn’t launched in a generation.

That could all change if the Europa Clipper were built.

To read more, click here.