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Juno Mission to Jupiter
Jupiter Europa Orbiter
Final Thoughts

The Jupiter Europa Orbiter (JEO)

Proposed for launch in 2020, Jupiter Europa Orbiter (JEO) would conduct a choreographed tour of the giant planet and its four largest moons before settling into orbit around Europa.

Arriving in 2025, the mission's primary objective would be to explore Europa from orbit and help improve our understanding of the moon’s suspected global, subsurface ocean. The NASA-led JEO mission is part of a larger proposed effort called the Europa Jupiter System Mission, being planned in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA would develop a separate spacecraft to study the Jupiter system in tandem with JEO, with the European probe entering orbit at Ganymede. JEO would be specially designed to cope with Jupiter's dangerous radiation.

Jupiter Europa Orbiter would help to reveal answers to important mysteries of Europa and its neighborhood around Jupiter by investigating the moon’s ice shell and ocean and the potential for life to exist under the surface of icy moons orbiting giant worlds like Jupiter – not just in our own Solar System, but across our galaxy and beyond.

Why do we want to go to Europa?

  • We know that Europa has an iron core, a rocky mantle and an outer H2O layer.
  • It has a water-rich layer, which we know from the Galileo spacecraft’s magnetometer measurements is at least partly liquid.
  • There is communication between the ocean and the surface, (through an ice layer of some thickness) demonstrated in the array of geologic features.
  • The ocean means that Europa may contain the most habitable environment in the solar system, aside from Earth.

Europa's Intriguing Geology

A Model of Europa's Ice Shell
Europa is the archetype for understanding the habitability of icy satellites and complex, interrelated geophysical processes.

Mission Goal: Explore Europa to Investigate Its Habitability

  • Improve our understanding of Europa's ocean, interior and ice shell
  • Determine the moon's chemistry and composition
  • Study Europa's geology and search for possible landing sites
  • Understand Europa in the context of the Jupiter System, including
    - Satellite surfaces and interiors
    - Satellite atmospheres
    - Plasma and magnetospheres
    - Jupiter atmosphere & Rings

Europa Surface Zoom This Galileo view zooms down to the surface of Europa until features no bigger than houses - just 20 meters across - can be seen amid the tangle of overlapping ridges and grooves.
All images/media copyright NASA, unless otherwise noted
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