As NASA quietly works on a lander that could accompany a $2 billion flyby probe to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, the head of the European Space Agency’s science program tells Spaceflight Now that Europe is ready to play a significant role in the project.
The goals of the ESA contribution would be decided by European scientists, but the agency has the funding for a piggyback probe costing up to 500 million euros, or nearly $550 million, according to Alvaro Gimenez, ESA’s director of science and robotic exploration.
NASA asked the European Space Agency last year whether it was interested in contributing to the Europa mission, and Gimenez said in an interview with Spaceflight Now that the answer is yes.
“We will participate with no cost to NASA by us contributing something equivalent to a half-billion euros in cost to ESA,” Gimenez said. “Now, where it goes depends on the cooperation.
“This is a NASA mission, and we are happy to be a junior partner with NASA,” Gimenez told Spaceflight Now in December. “It’s our natural partnership with the U.S., and we will be very happy to do it. Now, they have to tell us the profile of the mission, what they want to do, and where do we have a role. But certainly we would appreciate the opportunity.”