NASA to Announce New Discoveries About Ocean Worlds on Thursday

NASA’s Europa Clipper mission is being designed to fly by the icy Jovian moon multiple times and investigate whether it possesses the ingredients necessary for life. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute)

NASA will discuss new results about ocean worlds in our solar system from the agency’s Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope during a news briefing 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 13. The event, to be held at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington, will include remote participation from experts across the country.

The briefing will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

These new discoveries will help inform future ocean world exploration — including NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission planned for launch in the 2020s — and the broader search for life beyond Earth.

The news briefing participants will be:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters
  • Mary Voytek, astrobiology senior scientist at NASA Headquarters
  • Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California
  • Hunter Waite, Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer team lead at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio
  • Chris Glein, Cassini INMS team associate at SwRI
  • William Sparks, astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore

A question-and-answer session will take place during the event with reporters on site and by phone. Members of the public also can ask questions during the briefing using #AskNASA.

For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and to view the news briefing, visit:

For more information on ocean worlds, visit:

For more information on Cassini, visit:

For more information on Hubble, visit:

  • Please allow me help you translate this announcement from Disneyesque NASA political double speak to American English.

    “NASA will hold a cheerleading event for Jim Bridenstein’s hyper expensive future pet Europa mission debacle, in an effort to endear their idiotic expendable rocket debacle with the Trump administration and to ensure Jim Bridenstein’s nomination and confirmation as the next NASA

    Glad to help.

  • JamesG

    Lets hope that can curb their enthusiasm and not make claims that will be awkward when the sensationalism dies down. Again.

  • Arsenic is good for you. We call it life.

  • Kapitalist

    Here’s a presentation of the NASA Europa Clipper mission, from last Summer, by Robert Pappalardo. Rep. Culberson is in the audience and makes some almost inaudible statements during the Q&A at the end. I think it is expressing some unwarranted optimism about the bio energy possible in the potential Europa ocean.

  • therealdmt

    “We are here today to announce the discovery that ocean world’s will require the SLS rocket to unlock their bountiful mysteries on the Journey to Mars. Oh wait, we don’t have to say that last bit anymore, do we?”

  • WhoAmI

    Isn’t that throwing the baby out with the bath water? The Europa Clipper mission concept was in the works well before Bridenstine’s election to the House in 2013. It didn’t even consider the SLS until recently, and still could go with an Atlas V but take several years longer to get there.

    Hate the SLS all you want, but it is wrong to throw good science missions away because they have been tainted by SLS.

  • First of all, I heard this announcement was about active hydrothermal activity at Enceladus, which would be an even more challenging mission than Europa, but beyond that this has more to do with me on mission priorities. NOBODY can tell me any of these outer planet missions are necessary science, and none of them even begin to approach the dire national security needs of an inner orbiting asteroid detection mission which NASA has REFUSED to fund and execute for decades now.

    This is a debacle beyond belief that makes the SLS and Orion debacles seem mild in comparison. There should be at least two asteroid detection missions already done by now – JPL AND B612, Get it?

  • WhoAmI

    I agree that asteroid detection is important. Still, there is a higher likelihood a solar storm will wipe out our satellites, or space debris will make space inaccessible, or AGW will wipe us out if we don’t continue to better understand it, or …

    There are many threats to humanity. There are already programs looking for asteroids. There are many technologies that need to advance to better detect them and to respond to them when the threat arises. And more NASA $$ should be spent on it.

    The Europa Clipper isn’t taking up the entire NASA $19.5B budget. The original price of the Europa Clipper was only $1.2B. Now it is at $2B — probably because due to the extra cost of the SLS launch. Spread that across the mission, and we’re only taking $0.2B per year on average (assuming a 10 year mission). That’s only 1% of NASA’s budget.

    SLS is the long pole in the tent (in more ways than one!). Hate it. Don’t hate EC.

  • Well I like planet Earth more than I like Europa, and so I have no problem forcing the planetary mafia to continue long range observational science and then combining that with the planetary probe data we already have on hand or is coming. They don’t need any more expensive toys. This is the adult in the room speaking.

  • WhoAmI

    You know what would be kind of an irony to all your concerns… if we detect an asteroid well enough ahead of time using current methods of detection to where we are able to use the SLS and an appropriate payload to save us from annihilation.

  • There is nothing that SLS can’t do. Current methods of detection have failed, maybe you just failed to notice that.

    Here’s an idea – a massive aster detection and tracking effort.

    Using inner solar system satellites. What a totally novel idea.

    But no, we gotta look for life we already KNOW is out there.

  • I guess I can go even farther afield from the discussion below. As far as the origin of life is concerned with the upcoming announcement a few hours from now, and in particular the prospect of organic synthesis occurring in hydrothermal vents in the outer planet moons, this problem has already basically been solved by your truly, and then followed up with mathematical proofs by James Crutchfield. There is really no need to spend billions of dollars looking for something we already know exists wherever it can. Those questions will be answered soon enough without that kind of big mission NASA funding.