There are few destinations in the solar system as enticing as Jupiter's moon Europa. Below its icy crust a liquid water ocean is thought to exist, containing not only the necessary ingredients for life, but, according to scientists, potentially complex organisms. And now, despite a squeezed budget, it looks like NASA has been allocated the seed money for a mission to Europa.
Last week, President Barack Obama signed a resolution that was recently passed by the House and Senate outlining the extent of government funding for a range of science disciplines for the remainder of the fiscal year (until September 2013). But one line of the bill has drawn special interest from planetary scientists. On page 64, the bill (H. R. 933, PDF) says: "$75,000,000 shall be for pre-formulation and/or formulation activities for a mission that meets the science goals outlined for the Jupiter Europa mission in the most recent planetary science decadal survey."
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As noted by Destination: Europa, a group of scientists dedicated to the exploration of the icy Jovian moon, there's no mention about how the $75 million will be spent, but the fact that it will be used for a "Jupiter Europa mission" is no bad thing.