Our Space Club is excited again with the news that NASA is hopeful of an $18.5m budget from the White House for the fiscal year 2016.
$30m of that has been earmarked, and added to the $100m previously received, for a mission to send a probe to Europa, one of Jupiter’s fifty (confirmed) moons. Although that sounds like a hefty sum of cash, to put things in perspective the Mars Curiosity Rover cost $2.5bn – and it got stuck in the sand.
Europa is believed to have an ocean far larger than Earth’s, and up to ten times as deep, hidden beneath its “icy shell” of a surface. Due to its colossal energy Europa has a very strong tidal current, meaning its seas rarely freeze.
The presence of water demonstrates a potential life-friendly environment despite the fact that Europa is so far away from the Sun, thereby going against the Goldilocks principle that surrounds the Earth’s suitability for sustaining life (our planet is “just right”).
There are also hopes for a manned mission to Mars as early as 2030, using NASA’s Orion exploration spacecraft and launching on the new Space Launch System – the most powerful rocket ever built, designed to send humans to deep space destinations.
(Images via NASA: http://mars.nasa.gov/)