How much (roughly speaking, of course) would it cost to build and send a probe to look for life beneath the ice? A billion? 10 billion? 100 billion?

What is the cheapest way to do it? What about the fastest?

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    $\begingroup$ Related: space.stackexchange.com/questions/756/… $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Dec 11 '14 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ This seems too opinion based. The cheapest and fastest would likely be by not landing on Europa at all but designing a close flyby sample return mission that would try to capture some of the plume from geysers that were observed on Europa by Hubble Space Telescope and then analyzing this ejecta for its composition and presence of microbial life. That would be incredibly difficult to do, it might not work at all or produce conclusive results. Easiest, cheapest and fastest don't mix too well. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Dec 11 '14 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ I do not think it is opinion based. What is the opinion? How many methods do you have, as of today, for space travel? Just list the space travel methods and you get your "fastest" answer. Now, need to know what are the atmospheric conditions on Europa are, and what are the surface conditions are, and then you need to roughly estimate what tools you'll need to safely land on it, drill, dig, and travel, then you add the "rough" numbers and get your cost. Where do you see this being as an opinion? Isnt a math answer an opinion anyhow? Do we really exist here? $\endgroup$ – KingsInnerSoul Dec 11 '14 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ I meant "What is the cheapest way to do the job right?" Excuse me for not being clear. Observing plumes would cut down on expenses, but it would most likely miss out on any macrosocopic life forms, if any happen to be present. Also, to observe these life forms in their natural environment, we need to go down beneath the ice. That's what I really meant. I'm no rocket scientist, but to melt a whole in the ice I imagine you would need something on the order of several kilos of nuclear fuel, which in itself is nor hard, nor too expensive. Constructing a portable nuclear reactor is another thing... $\endgroup$ – Stefan Dec 12 '14 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ Go down to the surface and start minding your own business. If there's life, it will waste no time to hurry to you and start bothering you. $\endgroup$ – SQB Jul 9 '16 at 19:53

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