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Report: NASA Explores Cost Reduction Strategies for Jupiter Moon Lander Mission

NASA has started to examine multiple options to reduce the cost of a lander mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa after the agency postponed a call for spacecraft instruments, SpaceNews reported Wednesday.

Curt Niebur, a program scientist at NASA’s planetary science division, said at a meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group that agency planners have yet to choose a single concept for the lander mission and are examining factors such as mission cost and science return.

Niebur added that NASA might need to give up some science goals to achieve cost reductions for the Europa lander.

Initial concepts for the mission involve the launch of a spacecraft aboard the Space Launch System rocket by late 2025 to reach Jupiter in mid-2030 and land on Europa in late 2031.

NASA has not yet provided cost estimates for the mission and some planetary science experts believe the project could require billions of dollars, the report noted.

President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget request does not include funds for the Europa lander mission while the House version of a NASA appropriations bill allocates $495 million for the mission and the Europa Clipper multiple-flyby project.

Niebur said the agency will determine how to proceed with the Europa lander once the FY 2018 budget is finalized.

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