Scientists have been itching to go to Europa for a long time because this moon is thought to have a global ocean beneath an outer shell of ice — an ocean that may be hospitable to life. In May, NASA took the first step, selecting nine instruments to fly on a mission to Europa. Washington University’s William McKinnon, on the science team for two of the instruments, talks about the mission.
NASA/JPLThick or thin ice shell on Jupiter’s moon Europa? Scientists are all but certain that Europa has an ocean underneath its surface ice, but do not know how thick this ice might be.Jupiter’s moon Europa is just as far away as ever, but new research is bringing scientists closer to being able to explore its tantalizing ice-covered ocean and determine its potential for harboring life. William B. McKinnon, professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, is discussing some of these recent findings and new opportunities for exploring Europa in a news briefing on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007, at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.