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Proceedings Paper

Searching for ice and ocean biogenic activity on Europa and Earth
Author(s): Joan C. Horvath; Frank D. Carsey; James A. Cutts; Jack A. Jones; Elizabeth D. Johnson; Bridget M. Landry; Arthur L. Lane; Gindi Lynch; Kenneth C. Jezek; Julian Chela-Flores; Tzyy-Wen Jeng; Albert Bradley
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Paper Abstract

One of the more likely places in the solar system for the existence of extraterrestrial life forms is the Jovian moon Europa. It has been postulated that a volcanically-heated ocean is likely to exist underneath Europa's icy surface. If a detailed remote-sensing reconnaissance of Europa determines that an ocean does exist under the ice, then in- situ measurements will be needed to directly explore the Europan ocean and the ice that lies above it. In order to make quantitative measurements of the Europan environment, a lander spacecraft capable of penetrating the surface ice layer by melting through it is proposed. This vehicle, dubbed a `Cryobot', will be designed to carry a small deployable submersible (a `Hydrobot') equipped with a complement of instruments. The design of an instrument package to search for life across the wide range of thermal and pressure environments expected on Europa, the issues in sample handling, and long-term reliability for a potential multi-year transit through the ice all present difficult design issues. Opportunities for performing investigations of deep, submerged Antarctic lakes on Earth are described which would test the Cryobot/Hydrobot system while collecting intrinsically valuable terrestrial science data.

Paper Details

Date Published: 11 July 1997
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 3111, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for the Investigation of Extraterrestrial Microorganisms, (11 July 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.278805
Show Author Affiliations
Joan C. Horvath, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Frank D. Carsey, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
James A. Cutts, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Jack A. Jones, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Elizabeth D. Johnson, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Bridget M. Landry, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Arthur L. Lane, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Gindi Lynch, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Kenneth C. Jezek, The Ohio State Univ. (United States)
Julian Chela-Flores, International Ctr. for Theoretical Physics (Italy)
Tzyy-Wen Jeng, Abbott Labs. (United States)
Albert Bradley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3111:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for the Investigation of Extraterrestrial Microorganisms
Richard B. Hoover, Editor(s)

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