Thinking there could be life on one of Jupiter’s moons, NASA scientists are working on a plan to send robots to begin studying it. Jim Green, NASA’s planetary science chief, said there’s no reason to think there isn’t life on Europa, the sixth-closest moon to the planet Jupiter and the sixth-largest moon in the solar system. And he can’t wait to find out. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said this week that the space agency’s 2015 proposed budget includes funding for a robotic mission to Europa.
Plans to explore Europa could be put into action if NASA’s new $17 billion budget request to Congress gets approved. The request was made jointly with the White House, and would see NASA go on an interstellar road trip to explore what is considered one of our solar system’s leading candidates for life. As recently as December, observations suggested water vapor plumes were venting from the Jupiter moon; Europa has previously shown evidence of water, and NASA intends on further exploring this so-called extraterrestrial Atlantis. According to NASA’s statement, the budget request is for fiscal year 2015, and includes funds for “the formulation for a mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa.”