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EUROPA Calling — A Comprehensive Technical Concept for Exploring Ocean Worlds

Hendrik Hanff; Christoph Waldmann; Dale Winebrenner; Ralf Bachmayer; Oliver Funke
In: 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2018 (LPI Contrib. No. 2083). Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LSPC-2018), March 19-23, The Woodlands, Texas, USA, Online, 2018.


Ocean worlds on planetary moons like EUROPA, TITAN, and ENCELADUS are gaining strong attention because of their potential to harbor life forms that might be of similar origin as on Earth or could provide insight into how life can develop along different pathways. In astrobiology, the concept of habitability of an extraterrestrial subglacial water ocean assumes besides the existence of water in its liquid phase two further preconditions: i) the ocean must be in direct contact with a rocky lithosphere at its bottom, and ii) hydrothermal activity must be given. For the three different moons mentioned above it is likely that these requirements are fulfilled and, thus, they are within the focus of space exploration [2]. For EUROPA and ENCELADUS it means that a robotic probe has to penetrate the thick surface ice layer of ~10-25 km thickness and subsequently deploy an ocean going probe, i.e. an autonomous underwater vehicle, into the ocean.


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