Scientists Want To Crash A Probe Into Europa To Reveal Its Secrets

NASA/JPL-Caltech

While it could be used for a number of worlds, the team particularly looked at Europa. Here, they say the probe could study the water plumes at the south pole in even more detail than before.

After the EDP had slammed into the surface, its orbiting mother spacecraft could study the produced crater, getting a look at what the surface and sub-surface is made of.

There are of course planetary protection rules to be wary of, namely that we cannot contaminate other worlds with Earth-based microbes. The spacecraft would therefore need to be cleaned to an extremely high level, something the team says is possible.

We’ve used descent probes like this several times before, including Philae on the Rosetta mission, Huygens on the Cassini mission, and NASA’s Deep Impact mission to comet Tempel 1.

Wurz said their proposal had been presented to ESA and NASA but had not yet been selected. “Perhaps it will be selected, perhaps for another moon,” he said.

“There are many objects in the Solar System where the science return of a mission could be significantly improved by the addition of a descent probe,” he continued, noting that Neptune and its large moon Triton was an intriguing destination.

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