Concept art for NASA's flyby mission to Europa.
Planetary scientists have identified Jupiter's icy moon of Europa as one of their top targets for exploration, believing that its warm interior oceans may well harbor life.
A new study published just this week, authored by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, found that conditions in the oceans on Europa may indeed be Earth-like and capable of harboring life.
However, there has been some concern that having both an orbital spacecraft and a lander in a single mission would prove too challenging for a single rocket to deliver.
The plan would be for the orbiter spacecraft to swoop down into the harsh radiation environment near Europa because of the moon's proximity to Jupiter and out again to relay data back to Earth.
Yet this limited data was enough to tantalize scientists, and Europa has been a target of high interest for planetary scientists ever since.