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Move over Philae, we have a new lander in town

17 Feb 2017, 14:00 UTC
Move over Philae, we have a new lander in town
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Title: Europa Lander Study 2016 ReportCo-chairs of Science Definition Team (SDT): J. Garvin, A. Murray and K. Hand.First Author’s Institution: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, United StatesStatus: open accessEuropa is the smallest of the Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter, but it’s potentially one of the most exciting bodies in our diverse Solar System. Why? With oceans of liquid water hiding underneath its icy crust, Europa is an essential target in the search for life beyond our pale blue dot. To uncover the secrets of this mysterious moon we must take one giant leap for aliens everywhere and get to grips with its poorly understood surface.Figure 1: Artist impression of the lander on the surface of Europa. Credit: Michael CarrollToday’s bite will be going beyond the extremely cool science goals of a recently proposed Europa lander, and focusing on one big question. How do we successfully land on a moon?
Previous landingsSince the beginning of the space race, we’ve sent probes to study the dense Venetian atmosphere, rovers to traverse the rusty terrain of Mars and have even bounced on the duck-shaped comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. There have been many triumphs and failures during our attempt to explore the Solar System (thankfully someone ...

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