The main focus of the launch, that may happen in as early as 2022, will mainly study Europa from the orbit but the US space agency is also exploring the idea for surface investigation, as media reported.

"We are actively pursuing the possibility of a lander," said Robert Pappalardo, Europa project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

"NASA has asked us to investigate: What would it take? How much would it cost? Could we put a small surface package on Europa with this mission?" Pappalardo said at the 'Space 2015' conference earlier this month.

The final decision is expected by the end of this year, Pappalardo added. The conditions on Europa have made the icy moon top choice on the researchers' list of finding alien life in our solar system.


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