Mission #6: Europa Hydrobots

NASA spacecraft Galileo captured this image of Jupiter's moon Europa

NASA spacecraft Galileo captured this image of Jupiter’s moon Europa

The Enterprise will approach Jupiter but not get too close so that the radiation belts of Jupiter are avoided. Hydrobotic probes (meaning a robotic submarine with many sensors) will be launched from the Enterprise and sent to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. It’s believed that under the ice covering Europa’s surface is a large and deep ocean.  A hole will be made by melting through the ice either by using the heat from a nuclear reactor inside the hydrobot, or by using the Enterprise’s 100MW laser, or some combination of both.

Once the hydrobot gets through the ice, it will begin its journey as a robotic submarine using probes and cameras to explore the vast ocean never seen by humans. Some scientists believe that life may exist in this ocean. We will find out.

Like with the Mars and Venus missions, while near Jupiter many probes will be sent to Jupiter and some of its many moons.

Image credit - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Collection

Image credit – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Collection