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NASA is going to Jupiter's funky moon Europa

The Europa Clipper gets the official green light from NASA.

Europa as seen by NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

Europa is a beautiful icy beast of a moon. It's one of Jupiter's largest moons, and scientists suspect it's hiding an ocean under its frigid crust. 

We have a lot of questions about Europa, and NASA plans to answer them by giving the Europa Clipper mission the official go-ahead nod. 

This NASA illustration shows the Europa Clipper at the moon, with Jupiter in the background.


The mission was proposed years ago, but NASA announced on Monday that it'll now progress to completion of the final spacecraft design, followed by construction and testing of the craft. 

Like many NASA missions, Clipper will be looking for potential signs of life. 

"We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere," said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate.  

Europa is a wild place. It's home to mysterious geysers and scientists recently revealed that the moon's surface is full of sodium chloride, better known to us as table salt.

NASA hopes to have Clipper ready to launch by 2023, but the space agency is giving it some leeway to take off as late as 2025. Here's hoping for smooth sailing.