Jupiter mission looks for EU approval

April 18, 2012 at 5:34 PM

PARIS, April 18 (UPI) -- A proposal to study Jupiter's icy moons is seen as the strongest candidate in the running to be chosen as a billion-dollar European space mission, experts say.

The Juice (JUpiter ICy moon Explorer) proposal, which would launch in 2022 to study if Jupiter's moons could support life, is seen as the front runner as a key European space committee prepares to meet to discuss the various competing proposals in May, the BBC reported Wednesday.

The European Space Agency's Space Science Advisory Committee met earlier this month to consider the different project proposals, including Athena, which would build the biggest-ever X-ray telescope, and NGO, which would launch a trio of high-tech satellites in space to detect gravitational waves.

The agency has put forward a formal proposal to member states nominating Juice as the preferred mission to be implemented.

The 19 member-state delegations will make the final decision during a meeting of the agency's Science Program Committee in Paris May 2.

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