NASA picks CU science instrument for Jupiter moon mission

KUSA - NASA's future exploration of one of Jupiter's moons, Europa, will include a science instrument from CU-Boulder.

In an announcement on Tuesday, NASA selected nine instruments for the yet-unnamed mission, which will explore the icy moon. No date has been set for the mission yet, but NASA's 2016 budget includes a request for $30 million to begin planning the Europa mission.

CU-Boulder's Dr. Sascha Kempf will be the principal investigator of the SUDA (Surface Dust Mass Analyzer). That science instrument will measure particles coming from Europa, which will allow scientists to analyze samples of what the surface of the moon is like, as well as any plumes discovered, as a spacecraft conducts flybys during the mission.

Europa is about the size of Earth's moon. In the mid-1990s, the Galileo spacecraft orbited Jupiter and found evidence that Europa has a vast ocean beneath a frozen crust.

"With abundant salt water, a rocky sea floor, and the energy and chemistry provided by tidal heating, Europa could be the best place in the solar system to look for present day life beyond our home planet," NASA said in a press release about the science instrument selection on Tuesday.

For a look at all nine instruments selected for the Europa mission, go to 1.usa.gov/1Q8H3Ck

(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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