Russian scientists preparing to explore Jupiter''s moon

Moscow, Feb 13 (Itar-Tass) Russian scientists are readyto create a probe for sending it to the surface of one ofJupiter''s moons - Europa, a top space official has said.

"An active discussion is underway of a project forsending a landing probe to one of Jupiter''s moons, Europa,"where under a thick layer of ice (several kilometers thick)there lies an ocean of salt water. "This is a secondopportunity after Mars of discovering some kind ofextraterrestrial organic chemistry," Lev Zelyony, the headof the space research institute said.

In this respect Russia has certain competitive edges, inparticular, a huge backlog of biomedical technologies. Russianspecialists have extensive experience of soft landings, ofmanufacturing heavy rockets and, in particular, engines forthem. In addition, we have well-developed technologies ofradioisotope sources and electric rocket engines.

Russia plans to explore Jupiter''s moon in cooperationwith the European Space Agency within the project Laplace,said Zelyony.

However, European experts pay more attention to anothersatellite of Jupiter - Ganymede, which also contains water.

But experts say that by exploring the moons of the giantplanet we can get closer to understanding how lifeoriginated in the solar system.

Jupiter has several dozen satellites, the largest ofwhich are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. (Itar-Tass)

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