Russian and European scientists are preparing several craft for an expedition to Jupiter and its moon Europa, says Lev Zeleny, director of the Russian Academy of Science's Space Research Institute. The project, he said, is being called Laplace. Its main goal will be the exploration of Europa, which has liquid water on it under a layer of ice kilometers deep. The project is to be included in the European Space Agency's agenda for 2015 to 2025. Scientists from several Russian institutes will take part in it.
According to Zeleny, two craft are planned for the expedition, but Russian scientists are urging that a third craft, a landing craft, be included to explore Europa. That craft would land near one of the cracks in the ice created by meteors through which water rises and freezes on the surface. The craft would then enter the crack and proceed half a kilometer downward to where the water was still liquid and it could seek simple life forms. Zeleny called Europa "the most interesting place in the solar system after Mars."
Viktor Baranov, deputy director of the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems, made statements almost simultaneously about a Russian expedition to Mars. "We need to start preparing for it now," he said, noting that science and medicine are moving forward and the time has come to begin the selection process for cosmonaut who will explore the red planet.