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Probing Europa Ice Will Take A New Class Of Plantary Exploration Tools

Europa's mix of ice and lava and the ocean underneath creates one of the best environments for life elsewhere in our solar system to exist today.
Bremerhaven (UPI) March 15, 2004
Researchers in Germany are testing a probe that could melt through Europa's ice sheet to analyze the water below for microbial life.

Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, has an ice covering as much as 18 miles deep and the probe being tested can melt through ice at about 6 feet per hour. However, significant engineering challenges remain, the BBC reported Monday.

The prototype, based on a design pioneered by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, is a 90-inch-long hollow aluminum cylinder with a copper melting head powered by an electrical cable.

Scientists believe with some improvements -- the melting head of the probe could be powered by a radioactive heating unit instead of an electrical cable and an external power source -- the concept could provide the answer for the Europa lander.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2004 by United Press International. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by United Press International. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of by United Press International.

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