One of my favorite films, Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me is partly a cautionary tale about what happens when curiosity gets the better of someone, and is direct in its depiction of a seemingly innocent journey nearly ruined time and time again. Science fiction is full of these kinds of stories, where would-be pioneers meet their instant doom due to unforeseen circumstances, but science just keeps on trying to make all that shit happen. NASA‘s Next Big Plan is an unmanned mission to Europa, Jupiter’s most interesting moon in terms of Earthly similarities. It’ll be a while before the car is packed and gassed up though, so don’t go writing any alien conspiracy theories just yet.
For their fiscal year 2015 Budget Proposal, NASA plans to spend $17.5 billion in various ways, including putting more money into the Sunjammer Solar Sail energy source, climate change studies, and hopefully major developments in getting humans into deep space travels and hibernation. But they’re also setting aside $15 million for “pre-formulation work for a potential mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa.” Elizabeth Robinson, NASA’s chief financial officer, said the potential mission would launch in the mid-2020s, which means this thing could either become a highly-promoted and well-embraced challenge, or it could get swept under the space rug when the next U.S. President enters the oval office.