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Scientists to explore Jupiter's icy moon `Europa`

Researchers from the Planetary Science Institute will be studying Jupiter`s moon Europa, NASA has announced.

Scientists to explore Jupiter's icy moon `Europa`

Washington: Researchers from the Planetary Science Institute will be studying Jupiter`s moon Europa, NASA has announced.

During a press conference, NASA officials stated that the Europa mission, slated to launch in the 2020s, will orbit Jupiter while performing 45 Europa flybys over a three-year period with altitudes ranging from 25 kilometers to 2,700 kilometers.

PSI Senior Scientist Roger Clark is a Co-Investigator on the Mapping Image Spectrometer for Europa (MISE), which will probe the composition of Europa, identifying and mapping the distribution of organics, salts, acid hydrates, water ice phases and other materials to determine the habitability of Europa`s ocean.

Clark said that MISE would help in understanding what the composition of the ocean might be.

PSI Senior Scientists Amy Barr Mlinar and Candice Hansen are Co-Investigators on the Europa Imaging System (EIS) instrument, which features wide and narrow angle cameras that will map 90 percent of Europa`s surface at 50 meter resolution.

Hansen said that had only seen a small fraction of Europa`s fascinating surface at high resolution, and were looking forward to being surprised.

Galileo imaged about 10 percent of Europa`s surface with a best resolution of about 200 meters.

REASON is designed to characterize the distribution of any shallow subsurface water, search for an ice-ocean interface and characterize the ice shell`s global thermophysical structure, investigate processes governing material exchange among the ocean, ice shell, surface, and atmosphere -- including plume activity -- and constrain the amplitude and phase of gravitational tides, Mlinar said. It will also characterize the safety and scientific value of candidate landing sites for a possible future lander mission.

NASA selected nine of 33 instrument proposals submitted for the mission.