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NASA Seeks Ideas For Affordable Missions To Europa

This week the agency put out a Request for Information in hopes of attracting creative thinkers who can help them “achieve the most science at minimum cost.”

What’s the Latest Development?

On Monday (April 28) NASA announced that it’s looking for ideas on how to visit Jupiter’s moon Europa — considered by some to be the nearest likely candidate for hosting life due largely to the presence of liquid water beneath its surface — for less than US$1 billion (minus the launch vehicle). Science Mission Directorate associate administrator John Grunsfeld says that the focus on Europa “has stimulated not only scientific interest but also the ingenuity of engineers and scientists with innovative concepts.” Interested researchers and teams have until May 30 to respond to the agency’s official Request for Information (RFI). 

What’s the Big Idea?

The recent detection of water vapor erupting from the moon’s southern polar area has only intensified interest in exploration missions. NASA has already come up with several possible concepts, all of them unofficial, but they’ve received money from Congress — $80 million from the 2014 budget and another $15 million in the 2015 budget request — to continue their research. Now, says Grunsfeld, they’re hoping for some extra assistance “on how we can achieve the most science at minimum cost.”

Photo Credit: Galileo Project/JPL/NASA

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