Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Planetary Bombardment for Fun and Science!

Jupiter's moon Europa is one of the most intriguing places in the solar system to Astrobiologists. An icy shell overlies a deep water ocean, and tidal flexing from Jupiter's gravity may provide energy for life. But while scientists have been talking about developing a Europa mission for some time, so far NASA has not yet sent an orbiter to investigate the moon in detail.

Karl Hibbitts, a research scientist at the John Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, is working on developing a hyper-velocity impactor that could be carried on a future Europa orbiter. In this interview with Astrobiology Magazine editor Leslie Mullen, he explains why smashing down into the surface of Europa could provide details about the moon that an orbiter or even a lander could not.

Read the whole interview here

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