Pluto is thought to possess a subsurface ocean, which is not so much a sign of water as it is a tremendous clue that other dwarf planets in deep space also may contain similarly exotic oceans, naturally leading to the question of life, said one co-investigator with NASA’s New Horizon mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.
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.
After an epic journey across the breadth of the solar system, the New Horizons spacecraft is finally nearing its destination: the Pluto system, a staggering three billion miles from Earth. William McKinnon, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, explains that our understanding of Pluto has been transformed in the nearly 10 years the probe has been en route to its target.