Mars is the place that most of our spacecraft, landers and rovers are studying, searching for any evidence that life ever existed somewhere else in the Solar System.

But talk to planetary scientists, and they’re just as excited about the ocean worlds of the Solar System; the moons, asteroids, dwarf planets and Kuiper Belt objects where there could be vast oceans of liquid water under thick shells of ice.

The perfect environment for life to thrive.

We’ve only had tantalizing hints that these oceans are there, but NASA is building a spacecraft that will study one of these worlds in detail: the Europa Clipper. And they’re not the only ones. The European Space Agency is building their own mission, the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer.

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Team: Fraser Cain – @fcain / frasercain@gmail.com
Karla Thompson – @karlaii /
Chad Weber – weber.chad@gmail.com

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22 Comments

  1. Fluffy Flyers Reply

    Europa and Enceladus should have been top priority from day one. Unfortunately NASA has been obsessed with running joy stick rovers on a dusty red planet for the entire past decade. Congress had to issue a soft warning to NASA to make EUROPA a top priority with the Clipper mission. NASA agreed, however, they are now trying to cut costs by removing extremely important equipment off the Clipper mission. Meanwhile, they have the budget to send a "helicopter" probe mission to MARS. Its beyond comprehension.

  2. notnotnotharry Reply

    Dear Mr Cain,

    Why this teenage like enthusiasm? Just imagine if the probes come across sentinent life, suffering, which might require rescue. Have NASA and the ESA and yourself not thought of our resulting responsibility to respond with rescue missions? We are humans. Jesus Christ has ordained us with his specific 11th commandment to love and rescue.

    So what if life exists there? We already know we can recreate it from inanimate minerals with a DNA printer.

    There are immense responsibilities if the people that we discover there are in need, and we have to then find the resources to help them. We can't even care adequately for our own needy on this planet, let alone a accomodate for droopy bug-eyed goo-bags from another planet.

    Please have a measured sense about what the Yanks and Euros are doing here, and put it into the context of those poor Africans, Hispanics, and Musselmen desperately putting theirselves through the most phenomenal of risks to get to our cushy little spots here on this planet.

    Who has measured the likelihood of how far a nervous system might have evolved there under the ice, and what level of sentinece might exist?

    Answer these questions BEFORE you think you might have a right to go interfere. And bear in mind the immense suffering Western European intefering has caused around our own planet in the last 1000 years.

  3. Saifi Talat Reply

    I can't believe the U.S. congress is actually pushing for space exploration, not that I'm complaining.

  4. Michael Fitzgerald Reply

    Every time someone says "sublimate," they always follow it with its definition. Don't do this. It is arrogant and insulting to the very people you are trying to inform.

  5. The naeryndam Reply

    I wish I were a billionaire, I’d use all my money to fund space exploration missions…

  6. Never gonna happen, not on SLS. SLS will not see the light of day.

  7. Will any of JUNO's scientific data help the plannings for Clipper's

  8. I recently learned that the other certain water world moon, enceladus is so tiny that even though Europa is .008% the mass of earth, Europa is still almost 480 times more massive than Enceladus. It isn't even in hydrostatic equilibrium.

  9. Instead of retiring Hubble let’s put it in starship and blast it out to Jupiter

  10. Capt Walker Reply

    We better hope the green new deal is never enacted, there won't be a cent for space. Infact with so many believing in the merits of socialism and free things we'll have to same outcome. We've work to do like getting the lunatics involved through crowd funding to build the spacecraft ASAP to the water planets and not wait for congress.

  11. I would definitely save money by putting it on the Falcon Heavy so we have enough dough for the enceledus mission.

  12. Yes please we need to go! If only the budget for military where canceled and put into space exploration, environmental protection and medical research, the world would be a better place!

  13. Shrey Kandpal Reply

    i believe rather than poking each other … humanity should consider space exploration a compulsory and united task… bcz for "them" (i.e – intelligence other than human 'if any') we are one and not many culture, religion or minority fighting for dominance.

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