NASA has confirmed plans to send a spacecraft to "the most promising place to look for life beyond Earth" — Jupiter's icy moon, Europa.
The Europa Clipper mission will work to advance understanding of both our cosmic origin and life outside of Earth, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA in a press release. The Europa Clipper will be ready for launch sometime between 2023 and 2025.
The decision to move forward with the mission brings NASA "one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world," Zurbuchen says.
Scientists think Europa's ocean, which is beneath a 10-to-15-mile ice shell, may contain twice as much water as Earth's oceans combined. If some form of life is discovered on Jupiter's moon, that would confirm life exists in at least two places that orbit the same star — the sun. Then, it would be "reasonable to suspect that life springs up in the universe fairly easily," according to NASA.