Students Preparing a Changing Earth

New ‘Penetrator’ Space Probe Hopes to Find Life Inside Europa

Scientists are predicting the existence of a mysterious ocean beneath the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. And if there’s one thing that we’ve learned about the presence of water,  it’s that water is often accompanied by life. In order to visit the watery world of Europa, however, scientists will need a pretty powerful probe to penetrate its icy surface. That’s where the British-engineered ‘penetrator’ probe comes in.

Penetrator Space ProbeAstrium UK is developing this hard landing spacecraft that will sustain over 25,000g (fighter pilots experience only 12-14g) while, at the same time, protecting delicate sample analyzing instrumentation. The final projectile will boast a drill for carving and testing the surrounding ice, memory insulation that will protect the probe from -200C temperatures, microscope, mass spectrometer, and electronic components for transmitting data to the carrier satellite.

It’s initial firing test into a wall of ice was successful, and it’s now in the final stages of development. The engineers at Astrium UK are now installing the batteries and communication equipment that will be necessary for the high-tech space missile to send information back to Juice, the satellite ESA is sending to Europe in the next decade.

This tool could possibly be the discoverer of life on another celestial body in our very own solar system.

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