Does Europa Have an Ocean?

By Maddie Stone on at

Europa’s fabled ocean has inspired science fiction movies and actual space missions alike — and yet we aren’t even sure it exists. NASA has grown so curious, it recently greenlit a mission to Europa that’ll hopefully settle the matter once and for all. And the space agency has just produced an excellent video explaining why we should care.

With Pluto behind us and a new Europa mission moving full steam ahead, NASA is now hoping to drum up public interest in the distant, ice-covered moon. The first order of business? Making sure we’re all on the same page about Europa’s deep-sea diving prospects. To that end, a short NASA animation details why we think Europa could have more water than Earth.

If that ocean really does exist, it’s poised to be the first place we discover alien life. The as-yet-unnamed spacecraft that’ll find out for sure, and perhaps put an end our cosmic loneliness, is slated to launch in the 2020s and arrive at Europa several years later. [NASA]