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NASA Gets $75 Million For Europa Mission 135

astroengine writes "It may not be a lander or an orbiter, but its something. Europa, one of Jupiter's largest moons, has been the focus of much scrutiny over its potential life-bearing qualities. It has an icy crust over a liquid water ocean and now salts have been detected on its surface, suggesting a cycling of nutrients from the surface to the interior. This only amplifies the hypothesis that Europa not only could support basic life, it could support complex life. But how can we find out? The proposed Europa Clipper received interest at NASA HQ last year as it would optimize the science while keeping the mission budget under $2 billion. It would be a spacecraft that will be in orbit around Jupiter, but make multiple flybys of Europa to assess the moon for its habitable qualities. Now, in a bill signed by President Obama and approved by lawmakers, $75 million has been allocated (for the remainder of this fiscal year) for a 'Jupiter Europa mission.' Could it represent the seed money for the Europa Clipper? We'll have to wait and see."
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NASA Gets $75 Million For Europa Mission

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  • Why so expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @02:54PM (#43340587)

    I am a huge fan of NASA and wish the budgets between the Pentagon and NASA were switched...more bombing runs on other planets, less on our own. But why is everythng a $2 billion (before inevitable overruns) project?

    Each planetary mission is somehat different, but it really seems to me that they are re-inventing the wheel every time. What about standardizing on a vehicle platform, with some set instrumentation and a little room for customization if necessary. Make each one substantial enough (RTG's for power) And then start firing these off to Mercury, moons of Jupiter, Saturn, where-ever.

    The launch cost of an Atlas V or Delta IV is somehere in the neighborhood of $150 million, so the other $1.8 billion is for mission development and support?

    SpaceX, here's a tip...get into the science mission hardware game too.

  • Contamination (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @03:12PM (#43340799)

    At least they aren't planning on landing (yet).... If there's no life before we land a spacecraft on the Europa, there will be afterwards.

    We should probably become better at sterilizing [nytimes.com] our spacecraft [highbeam.com] before we land one on a moon where water is known to exist, and seed its oceans with earth-based life.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents