Let's go to Europa...

Image source
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

When Cassini was celebrating its tenth birthday, the Planetary Society Blog's Emily Lakdawalla pointed out that, as great a celebration as this was for Cassini, it also drew attention to the fact that it had been ten years since the last major interplanetary mission. Well, the waiting is over, as NASA and ESA have announced that their next 'flagship' mission will be to Europa.

But let's not look too far ahead: it'll take some time for this thing to get off the ground (metaphorically or literally), and we'll probably see interesting things from missions like Dawn, New Horizons and the as-yet un-renamed Mars Science Laboratory long before this mission is even launched.

(It's interesting to note that, due to the nature of space flight, the most powerful camera to visit Jupiter is still Cassini's. So, even when I'm writing about Jupiter, I'm still posting a Cassini image. Call it favouritism if you will. Europa is visible in front of Jupiter's turbulent clouds.)

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