A Science Strategy for the Exploration of Europa by National Research Council, Division on Engineering and

By National Research Council, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Space Studies Board, Mathematics, and Applications Commission on Physical Sciences, Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration

Since its discovery in 1610, Europa - considered one of Jupiter's 4 huge moons - has been an item of curiosity to astronomers and planetary scientists. a lot of this curiosity stems from observations made via NASA's Voyager and Galileo spacecraft and from Earth-based telescopes indicating that Europa's floor is sort of younger, with little or no facts of cratering, and made mostly of water ice.

More lately, theoretical types of the jovian process and Europa have steered that tidal heating could have led to the life of liquid water, and maybe an ocean, underneath Europa's floor. NASA's ongoing Galileo undertaking has profoundly improved our figuring out of Europa and the dynamics of the jovian process, and should let us constrain theoretical versions of Europa's subsurface structure.

Meanwhile, because the time of the Voyagers, there was a revolution in our realizing of the boundaries of existence in the world. lifestyles has been detected thriving in environments formerly considered untenable - round hydrothermal vent structures at the seafloor, deep underground in basaltic rocks, and inside of polar ice. in different places within the sun procedure, together with on Europa, environments considered appropriate with existence as we all know it in the world are actually thought of attainable, or perhaps possible. Spacecraft missions are being deliberate that could be able to proving their existence.

Against this history, the distance stories Board charged its Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) to accomplish a complete learn to evaluate present wisdom approximately Europa, define a technique for destiny spacecraft missions to Europa, and establish possibilities for complementary Earth-based experiences of Europa. (See the preface for an entire assertion of the charge.)

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Any species out of equilibrium can, in principle, react by exchanging electrons until they are in equilibrium. Moreover, in the proper situation, just about any chemical species can act as either an oxidizing (electron acceptor) or reducing (electron donor) agent. Common electron donors include H2, CO, Fe, Mn, CH4, S, NO2, H2S, and NH3. Common electron acceptors include O2, CO2, CO, S, NO2, Mn, and Fe. The diversity of donors and acceptors means that a wide variety of different redox systems can power life.

Moreover, if life did originate at some time, it is unclear if it survived to the present day. SUMMARY OF OPEN ISSUES REGARDING EUROPA The major outstanding questions about Europa that remain unanswered at the close of the Galileo Europa Mission are whether Europa has a liquid-water ocean beneath its icy surface and whether there is the potential for the existence of life there. The former is amenable to investigation by spacecraft in the immediate future, whereas the latter will require development of new technological approaches and implementations.

On the assumption that the shape of Europa’s gravitational field results from a physical distortion caused by its spin and by the tidal forces it experiences as it orbits around Jupiter in synchronous rotation, the gravitational field can be used to infer Europa’s axial moment of inertia C and tell us about the distribution of mass in Europa’s interior. 4, the value for a uniform-density sphere, and requires that the density of the interior increase toward the center of Europa. 28 Two-layer models of Europa with an ice outer shell and a uniform silicate/metal inner region are possible, but only if the interior density is greater than about 3800 kg m–3.

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