A decade from now, NASA probes could be on their way to explore two potentially life-supporting alien worlds.
The agency already plans to launch a spacecraft toward the Jupiter moon Europa in the early to mid-2020s, and it’s mulling a mission to the Saturn satellite Enceladus that would lift off by the end of 2021. Many astrobiologists regard Europa and Enceladus, which are both thought to harbor oceans of liquid water beneath their icy shells, as the solar system’s two best bets to host alien life.
The possible Encelacus project, known as the Enceladus Life Finder (ELF), is one of two dozen or so concepts submitted earlier this year for consideration by NASA’s Discovery Program, which launches highly focused, relatively low-cost missions to various solar system destinations. […]