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Jan. 31, 2001

Kathleen Burton

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-1731 or 650/604-9000

kburton@mail.arc.nasa.gov


NOTE TO EDITORS: News media are invited to attend the first Europa workshop on Feb. 1 and 2. The program will be held in Bldg. N-245, the space science auditorium, at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. To reach Ames, take Highway 101 to the Moffett Field exit. Proceed to the main gate. Stop at Visitor Badging, to the right of the main gate, and receive a visitor badge and a map with directions to Bldg. N-245. Non-U.S. media must bring passports and press identification and will be escorted at all times.


NOTE TO EDITORS: 01-07AR

AMES WORKSHOP TO EXPLORE WATER ON EUROPA

NASA’s Ames Research Center will host the first workshop to discuss Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to contain a salty ocean, on Feb. 1 and 2, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. Researchers and workshop organizers will be available during sessions and lunch breaks for one-on-one interviews.

An international cadre of scientists will exchange ideas about exploration strategies for Europa. The workshop was organized to provide a forum for discussing Europa science and to foster collaborative research.

"This meeting is the first step in a long process to synthesize input from the science community about the possibility of environments favorable for life," said conference organizer Dr. Ron Greeley, professor of geology at Arizona State University. "For the first time, we are bringing together a forum of diverse disciplines -- from planetary scientists to ‘extremophile-hunters’ to researchers who study terrestrial sea ice, who often don’t share ideas -- with the common goal of understanding Europa," he said.

Scientists think Europa may have a salty crust and an ocean conducive to harboring life. Recent images taken by the Galileo spacecraft have bolstered this hypothesis.

The astrobiological implications for exploring Europa include possible liquid water, a heat source and organic compounds. NASA’s planned missions to Europa include the Europa orbiter mission followed by possible landers.

Workshop highlights will include an overview of Europa’s salty crust and ocean, a look at terrestrial analogs and astrobiology implications on Thursday morning; a discussion of the indicators of a Europa ocean on Thursday afternoon; strategies for searching for life on Europa on Friday morning; and the status of the Europa Orbiter Mission on Friday afternoon.

Workshop abstracts and a complete agenda is located at: http://europa.la.asu.edu/abstracts

A summary of NASA's Europa exploration strategy is at: http://spacescience.nasa.gov/missions/index.htm

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