GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 200-5
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM


SCULLY, Jennifer1, HAND, Kevin P.1, PHILLIPS, Cynthia B.1, CABLE, Morgan L.1, CAMERON, Marissa1, CRAFT, Kathleen L.2, HOFGARTNER, Jason D.1, HOFMANN, Amy E.1, KOSBERG, Jacob A.1, NORDHEIM, Tom1 and PITESKY, Jo E.1, (1)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, (2)Space Exploration Sector, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd, Laurel, MD 20723

Jupiter’s moon Europa is a prime target in our exploration of potentially habitable worlds beyond Earth, and of ocean worlds in the outer solar system. Thus, Europa exploration is key for both astrobiology and comparative oceanography. Europa’s subsurface ocean has likely existed for much of the history of the solar system, potentially providing a persistent, stable environment rich in the elements and energy needed for the emergence of life, and for potentially sustaining life through time. The ocean is likely in contact with a rocky, silicate seafloor, and the ice shell may have tectonic activity that could allow reductant-oxidant cycling. The persistence of Europa’s ocean means that extant life could be there today, and that signs could be found within the ice and ocean of Europa. The high-level science goals of the Europa Lander Mission Concept are: (1) search for evidence of biosignatures on Europa, (2) assess the habitability of Europa via in situ techniques uniquely available to a lander, and (3) characterize surface and subsurface properties at the scale of the lander to support future exploration. A lander on the surface would collect and process ≥3 separate samples, each of at least 7 cm3 in volume, and acquired from a depth of ≥10 cm. Using primary batteries, a lander could operate for as long as >60 days on the surface. The mission concept aims to balance technical risk with science return and cost, and achieves high value science without requiring an excessive number of engineering ‘miracles’. Here we provide an overview of significant milestones, developments, and technology advancements. The technology and instrumentation investments made to date exceed $300M, and many can be utilized for landing on other ocean worlds. The Europa Lander Mission Concept builds on the wealth of future Clipper, using Clipper data for landing site reconnaissance and selection. There are almost 3 years between the end of the Europa Clipper prime mission and the final landing site selection for the Europa Lander Mission Concept architecture, providing ample time to identify a landing site that meets safety and science needs. The terrain relative navigation and hazard avoidance system used by Mars 2020 to touch down in Jezero crater is the same system that would be used to deliver the lander safely to Europa’s surface.