"$100 million is a considerable increase," Dreier wrote. "NASA would be crazy not to use this funding to start a real mission, but that decision likely lies with the Office of Management and Budget, which approves their funding requests. Let's hope they get the message in time to request a new start in 2016."
Meanwhile, scientists have been searching for signs that the ice-covered moon has plumes of water shooting out into space from its south pole. The discovery was reported last year by a team using the Hubble Space Telescope. So far, however, analysis of Europa images taken by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft have not shown plumes, scientists reported at the American Geophysical Union conference earlier this month.
"It is certainly still possible that plume activity occurs, but that it is infrequent or the plumes are smaller than we see at Enceladus," Cassini scientist Amanda Hendrix, with the Planetary Science Institute in Pasadena, said in a press release.
"If eruptive activity was occurring at the time of Cassini's flyby, it was at a level too low to be detectable," she said.