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Joint Europa Mission (JEM): a multi-scale study of Europa to characterize its habitability and search for extant life

Blanc, Michel and Prieto-Ballesteros, Olga and André, Nicolas and Gomez-Elvira, Javier and Jones, Geraint and Sterken, Veerle and Desprats, William and Gurvits, Leonid I. and Khurana, Krishan and Balmino, Georges and Blöcker, Aljona and Broquet, Renaud and Bunce, Emma and Cavel, Cyril and Choblet, Gaël and Colins, Geoffrey and Coradini, Marcello and Cooper, John and Dirkx, Dominic and Fontaine, Dominique and Garnier, Philippe and Gaudin, David and Hartogh, Paul and Hussmann, Hauke and Genova, Antonio and Iess, Luciano and Jäggi, Adrian and Kempf, Sascha and Krupp, Norbert and Lara, Luisa and Lasue, Jérémie and Lainey, Valéry and Leblanc, François and Lebreton, Jean-Pierre and Longobardo, Andrea and Lorenz, Ralph and Martins, Philippe and Martins, Zita and Marty, Jean-Charles and Masters, Adam and Mimoun, David and Palumba, Ernesto and Parro, Victor and Regnier, Pascal and Saur, Joachim and Schutte, Adriaan and Sittler, Edward C. and Spohn, Tilman and Srama, Ralf and Stephan, Katrin and Szegő, Károly and Tosi, Federico and Vance, Steve and Wagner, Roland and Van Hoolst, Tim and Volwerk, Martin and Wahlund, Jan-Erik and Westall, Frances and Wurz, Peter Joint Europa Mission (JEM): a multi-scale study of Europa to characterize its habitability and search for extant life. (2020) Planetary and Space Science, 193. 104960-104996. ISSN 0032-0633

(Document in English)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2020.104960


Europa is the closest and probably the most promising target to search for extant life in the Solar System, based on complementary evidence that it may fulfil the key criteria for habitability: the Galileo discovery of a sub-surface ocean; the many indications that the ice shell is active and may be partly permeable to transfer of chemical species, biomolecules and elementary forms of life; the identification of candidate thermal and chemical energy sources necessary to drive a metabolic activity near the ocean floor. In this article we are proposing that ESA collaborates with NASA to design and fly jointly an ambitious and exciting planetary mission, which we call the Joint Europa Mission (JEM), to reach two objectives: perform a full characterization of Europa’s habitability with the capabilities of a Europa orbiter, and search for bio-signatures in the environment of Europa (surface, subsurface and exosphere) by the combination of an orbiter and a lander. JEM can build on the advanced understanding of this system which the missions preceding JEM will provide: Juno, JUICE and Europa Clipper, and on the Europa lander concept currently designed by NASA (Maize, report to OPAG, 2019). We propose the following overarching goals for our Joint Europa Mission (JEM): Understand Europa as a complex system responding to Jupiter system forcing, characterize the habitability of its potential biosphere, and search for life at its surface and in its sub-surface and exosphere. We address these goals by a combination of five Priority Scientific Objectives, each with focused measurement objectives providing detailed constraints on the science payloads and on the platforms used by the mission. The JEM observation strategy will combine three types of scientific measurement sequences: measurements on a high-latitude, low-altitude Europan orbit; in-situ measurements to be performed at the surface, using a soft lander; and measurements during the final descent to Europa’s surface. The implementation of these three observation sequences will rest on the combination of two science platforms: a soft lander to perform all scientific measurements at the surface and sub-surface at a selected landing site, and an orbiter to perform the orbital survey and descent sequences. We describe a science payload for the lander and orbiter that will meet our science objectives. We propose an innovative distribution of roles for NASA and ESA; while NASA would provide an SLS launcher, the lander stack and most of the mission operations, ESA would provide the carrier-orbiter-relay platform and a stand-alone astrobiology module for the characterization of life at Europa’s surface: the Astrobiology Wet Laboratory (AWL). Following this approach, JEM will be a major exciting joint venture to the outer Solar System of NASA and ESA, working together toward one of the most exciting scientific endeavours of the 21st century: to search for life beyond our own planet.

Item Type:Article
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:Université de Toulouse > Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace - ISAE-SUPAERO (FRANCE)
Deposited On:09 Dec 2020 14:56

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