Public Lectures

The Hidden Ocean, NASA’s Europa Mission, and the Search for Habitability

Published on August 28, 2015

Speaker:Sascha Kempf
Date:Wednesday, Nov 10, 2021
Time:7:30 p.m.
Location:LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.

Seminar Abstract:

NASA’s next flagship mission will explore whether Jupiter’s moon Europa could harbor conditions suitable for life. Previous missions have provided compelling evidence for such conditions on Europa: The moon most likely harbors a global ocean underneath its icy crust; the conditions within the ocean are acceptable for extant terrestrial life; and the chemical inventory of the ocean provides the range of elements essential for Earth-like organisms.

The mission will place a spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter to perform closes flybys of Europa. NASA has selected nine instruments for this mission, including cameras and spectrometers, an ice-penetrating radar, a thermal instrument, a magnetometer, and in-situ mass spectrometers. LASP will provide the Surface Dust Analyzer (SUDA), an instrument to investigate the chemical makeup of Europa’s surface, which may hold the fundamental clues for understanding its potential to develop and sustain life, because materials embedded in the ice matrix on Europa’s surface carry a treasure trove of information about the moon’s interior.

In this talk, SUDA principal investigator, Sascha Kempf, will provide an overview about NASA’s mission to Europa and how the scientific payload will help determine if this moon can sustain life.

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