Europa Mission: 5 Facts About NASA's Quest for Alien Life

NASA is charting a course to uncover the secrets of Jupiter's fourth-largest moon, the mysterious Europa.

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1.  It will take several years for Clipper to reach Europa. 

NASA Europa Galilean moons
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  • Jupiter and its four largest moons (not to scale).

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

2. This will be a an orbital mission, like Jupiter’s Juno mission.  

3. Clipper’s primary goal is to find out whether Europa supports life.  

NASA Europa missions water vapor plumes
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  • Artist's rendition of water vapor plumes on Europa.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

4. This isn’t the only Europa mission in development

NASA Europa Mission
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  • Jupiter, with moons Io on the left and Europa on the right. Image taken by NASA's Voyager 1 in 1979.

    Photo Credit: Space Frontiers / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

These missions will be expensive.