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Journal Articles Planetary and Space Science Year : 2020

Joint Europa Mission (JEM) a multi-scale study of Europa to characterize its habitability and search for extant life

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Dominique Fontaine
Adrian Jäggi
  • Function : Author
François Leblanc
Adam Masters
Frances Westall

Abstract

Europa is the closest and probably the most promising target to search for extant life in the Solar System, based on complementary evidence that it may fulfil the key criteria for habitability: the Galileo discovery of a sub-surface ocean; the many indications that the ice shell is active and may be partly permeable to transfer of chemical species, biomolecules and elementary forms of life; the identification of candidate thermal and chemical energy sources necessary to drive a metabolic activity near the ocean floor. In this article we are proposing that ESA collaborates with NASA to design and fly jointly an ambitious and exciting planetary mission, which we call the Joint Europa Mission (JEM), to reach two objectives: perform a full characterization of Europa's habitability with the capabilities of a Europa orbiter, and search for bio-signatures in the environment of Europa (surface, subsurface and exosphere) by the combination of an orbiter and a lander. JEM can build on the advanced understanding of this system which the missions preceding JEM will provide: Juno, JUICE and Europa Clipper, and on the Europa lander concept currently designed by NASA (Maize, report to OPAG, 2019).
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Dates and versions

insu-02883533 , version 1 (30-06-2020)

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Michel Blanc, Nicolas André, Olga Prieto-Ballesteros, Javier Gómez-Elvira, Geraint D. Jones, et al.. Joint Europa Mission (JEM) a multi-scale study of Europa to characterize its habitability and search for extant life. Planetary and Space Science, 2020, 193, pp.104960. ⟨10.1016/j.pss.2020.104960⟩. ⟨insu-02883533⟩
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