NASA really wants to go to Europa, and anyone who knows anything about exobiology really wants NASA to go to Europa. Why? Water.
On Earth, water is what fuels life. Of course, there are a lot of other things that fuel life on our planet, but water is an integral part of life as we know it. Indeed, so far, all of our research has indicated that where there is water, there is life (Earth isn’t called “the Pale Blue Dot” for nothing). And while it is possible that alien life could exists on other worlds and thrive off of something else entirely (iron, maybe?), when one is searching for the first signs of life out in the universe, it makes sense to look for it in familiar places.
And it seems that we may be on our way. In NASA’s 2016 budget, the plan to explore Europa got a huge pay off, to the tune of $255 million over the course of five years, which is a very promising boost to last year’s $100 million allocation, which was meant to begin investigations into the feasibility of such a mission. According to NASA, “this is the first time, the budget supports the formulation and development of a Europa Mission, allowing NASA to begin project formulation, Phase A.”
The below infographic from NASA shows why heading here is a must.