Ocean Worlds Exploration and the Search for Life

©astro-ph.IM

Ocean Worlds Exploration

This is a community draft white paper for submission to the Decadal Survey in Planetary Science and Astrobiology, reflecting the views of the NASA Astrobiology Program's Research Coordination Network for Ocean Worlds (NOW).

We recommend the establishment of a dedicated Ocean Worlds Exploration Program within NASA, providing sustained funding to support the science, engineering, research, development, and mission planning needed to implement a multi-decadal, multi-mission program to explore Ocean Worlds for life and understand the conditions for habitability. The two new critical flagship missions within this program would 1) land on Europa or Enceladus in the decade 2023-2032 to investigate geophysical and geochemical environments while searching for biosignatures, and 2) access a planetary ocean to directly search for life in the decade 2033-2042.

The technological solutions for a landed mission are already in-hand, evidenced by the successful delta-Mission Concept Review of the Europa Lander pre-flight project in the fall of 2018. Following an initial landed mission, an ocean access mission will require substantial research, development, and analog testing this decade enable the initiation of a pre-flight project at the start of the following decade.

Samuel M. Howell, William C. Stone, Kate Craft, Christopher German, Alison Murray, Alyssa Rhoden, Kevin Arrigo
Comments: 8 pages, with cover, 1 table, 1 figure
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2006.15803 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2006.15803v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Samuel Howell
[v1] Mon, 29 Jun 2020 04:14:48 UTC (6,314 KB)
https://arxiv.org/abs/2006.15803
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