Europa Orbiter

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An artist's impression of Europa Orbiter.

The Europa Orbiter[1] was a planned NASA mission to Jupiter's Moon Europa, that was cancelled in 2002.[2] Its main objectives included determining the presence or absence of a subsurface ocean and identifying candidate sites for future lander missions.[3] Europa Orbiter received pre-project funding in 1998, and resulted from NASA's Fire and Ice project.[3]

Europa Orbiter was a design for a mission to the Jovian moon Europa, based on a 900 kg (1984 lb) orbiter, of which 500 kg (1102 lb) was fuel for maneuvers.[4] It would have been powered by RTG power and 2003 launch from the Space Shuttle.[4] This would have meant an arrival at Jupiter in 2007, at which time it would commence in three-part science tour focused on Europa.[4] The spacecraft would be radiation hardened to survive a predicted 4 megarads of radiation.[4]

The science payload would include a radar to determine the thickness of ice at Europa, and determine what was below it.[5] Other instruments would be an altimeter and imaging systems, among other devices.[6]

In 1999 NASA issued an announcement of opportunity that solicited experiments for Europa Orbiter, Pluto/Kuiper Express, and Solar Probe.[4]

The results of the studies on the Europa Orbiter have been conducive to the Jupiter Europa Orbiter (JEO), NASA's contribution to the planned international Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) that was slated for launch in 2020. EJSM was cancelled in 2011.

The Europa Orbiter-concept should not be confused with the Jovian Europa Orbiter, a feasibility study conducted by the European Space Agency which was finally superseded by the EJSM, too.

Another Europa mission in this era was the Europa Ice Clipper, a stardust-like sample return mission.[5]

The next NASA mission to Jupiter was Juno, which was selected in 2005 as the next New Frontiers mission after New Horizons.[7] It was launched in 2011 and arrived at Jupiter in the summer of 2016.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Europa Orbiter Mission Design
  2. ^ NASA Kills Europa Orbiter
  3. ^ a b [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e A Science Strategy for the Exploration of Europa
  5. ^ a b "Galileo buzzes Europa | Science Mission Directorate". Retrieved 2017-02-15. 
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ "Juno Mission to Jupiter". Astrobiology Magazine. June 9, 2005. Retrieved December 7, 2016.