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Move over, Mars: Manned Europa mission considered

A group that calls itself Objective Europa is investigating the feasibility of sending a one-way manned mission to Jupiter's moon Europa.

This NASA image of Europa shows off the icy surface.
NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk

Mars has been getting all the manned-mission love lately, but let's not forget all the other heavenly bodies. Jupiter's icy moon Europa is the target objective of a group of volunteer scientists, conceptual artists, and social-media experts looking into sending a one-way crewed mission on a search for knowledge and extraterrestrial life.

Officially, Objective Europa is a group that exists only on the Internet, with no legal organization attached to it. The goal statement reads, "Our purpose is to establish the foundation for and carry out a crewed mission to Jovian ice moon Europa through international crowd-research and participation."

Europa is an enticing destination. The moon's ice and oceans could hold more promise for life than Mars' barren environments.

There are some interesting Objective Europa team members whose presence adds legitimacy to the endeavor. For example, Kristian von Bengtson is a Danish architect with a specialty in manned spaceflight. He is a co-founder of Copenhagen Suborbitals, a nonprofit focused on launching humans into space. Another experienced contributor is Michele Faragalli, a rover mobility specialist for NASA contractor Neptec Design Group.

Scientist and diver Pierre-Yves Cousteau, son of legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau, is also on the team as an ambassador for the group.

The concept for the mission is interesting, but it's little more than a concept at this point. Phase-1 is geared for gathering ideas. The group has opened up a variety of research topics for discussion. These include investigating the feasibility of a manned mission versus a robotic mission, launch vehicle studies, and cost analysis.

Future phases would involve raising funding, and prototyping and testing technology. With all the talk of manned space missions, it will be interesting to see if humans make it to Mars or Europa first.

This artist's impression of Europa makes the place look more exotic than Mars. Chris Weeks

(Via Space Industry News)