NASA and ESA to attempt unmanned missions and perhaps landing there
Nasa and the European Space Agency have decided to forge ahead with an ambitious plan to send a probe to the Jupiter system and its icy moon Europa.
The proposal could be the agencies' next "flagship" endeavour, to follow on from the successful Cassini-Huygens mission to the Saturn system.
Officials had been considering the Jupiter mission along with a venture to Saturn's moons Titan and Enceladus.
But they will target an earlier flight opportunity for the Europa mission.
A Saturnian return will have to wait until later in the century, agency chiefs say.
The missions would cost several billion dollars/euros to build and execute and might never fly if other future space endeavours become higher research priorities.
The romantic in me (as well as the "Man of Science" inside me working out a way to get out) has always been fascinated by having colonies set up on Europa and Enceladus one day, in the far future. Whether it's worth the cost of sending yet another robot creature into space to invade other worlds and search for signs of non-terrestrial life is always up for debate. Or maybe we should look towards getting our own asses to Mars first?