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Overview

artist's concept of Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter

NASA is developing plans for an ambitious mission to orbit three planet-sized moons of Jupiter -- Callisto, Ganymede and Europa -- which may harbor vast oceans beneath their icy surfaces. The mission, called the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, would orbit each of these moons for extensive investigations of their makeup, their history and their potential for sustaining life.

NASA's Galileo spacecraft found evidence that Jupiter's large icy moons appear to have three ingredients considered essential for life: water, energy and the necessary chemical contents. The evidence from Galileo suggests melted water on Europa has been in contact with the surface in geologically recent times and may still lie relatively close to the surface. Observations of Callisto and Ganymede would provide comparisons key to understanding the evolution of all three moons. The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter would support one of NASA's main goals: to explore the universe and search for life.

The orbiter would also raise NASA's capability for space exploration to a revolutionary new level by pioneering the use of electric propulsion powered by a nuclear fission reactor. This technology not only makes it possible to consider a realistic mission for orbiting three of the moons of Jupiter, one after the other, it would also open the rest of the outer solar system to detailed exploration in later missions.

 
MISSION

Overview
Launch/Trajectory
Instruments
Mission Fact Sheet
Partners
Project Prometheus

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