I have blogged in the past about the challenges of exploring Europa, and why we really must try to do it.
Europa is covered with an icy crust (water!), and under the ice is an ocean (liquid water!). Possibly 10 km under the ice. The surface is near absolute zero, and bathed in lethal radiation, but under the ice there could be life. We have to go see.
Even in this backwards and impoverished time, NASA is, in fact, working on it!
The Ocean Worlds Europa Technologies (OMET) group has been exploring technologies to tackle the challenges. These include methods for melting and/or drilling down through kilometers of granite hard ice, wheels that work on ice, and sampling techniques.
This is so cool (no pun intended)!
These technologies are now entering an evaluation, and if selected will go to another round of development. A probe might be launched by 2030, likely arriving around 2040.
Knock on wood.
Robots on Europa (which sounds kinda gay, anyway) twenty years from now are probably a hard sell to the knuckle draggers in Washington.
- NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA Tests Robotic Ice Tools. 2017, https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php.
- NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Ocean Worlds Europa Technologies (OMET). 2917, https://gameon.nasa.gov/projects-2/ocean-worlds-europa-technologies/
Wouldn’t ‘Robots On Europa’ be a good name for a band? Or even ‘Gay Robots on Europa’.