Could it be possible to send out something similar to a probe to one of the moons in the solar system that most likely have water under the cover of the ice and then bring back tests to Earth to see what it contains, or somehow try to drill into the ice?

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    $\begingroup$ A "sond"? Do you mean a "probe"? $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2022 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ @AtmosphericPrisonEscape they probably meant "sonde" - dictionary.com/browse/sonde - as someone with your username should already know.. ;-p $\endgroup$
    – Aaron F
    Nov 8, 2022 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ @AaronF "Sonde" means literally that, in another language, thanks anglocentric imperial person. $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2022 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking if it could be done now, or in the near future, or if there are any current plans to do so? $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Nov 8, 2022 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ This type of question is better suited in Space ex IMO. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2022 at 7:52

2 Answers 2


This is called a "sample & return mission" and is possible, but would be a significant challenge.

The icy moons are all around Jupiter and beyond. You would need to:

  1. Launch from Earth,
  2. Boost to the orbit of Jupiter
  3. Slow down and be captured into Jupiter's orbit
  4. Land on the moon
  5. Lift off from the moon
  6. Escape Jupiter's orbit
  7. Slow down and land on Earth.

Each step requires fuel, and the fuel for each step of the mission needs to be carried during the previous steps. The application of the rocket equation makes this hard.

In reality, we have done sample and return missions to the moon and to asteroids, which are closer and have much lower fuel requirements.

So, while such a mission is possible and would be scientifically valuable, it would represent a huge technical challenge.

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    $\begingroup$ Another challenge: unless you want to analyze vapor traces, the sample needs to be kept frozen during the EDS phase. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2022 at 7:02

Possible? Yes. Spend enough money and anything physically possible can be done. Likely in the foreseeable future? No. Such a mission would either cost too much or have too high of a likelihood of failure.

There is a planned mission to an icy moon of Jupiter, the Europa Clipper, which is planned to launch in 11 months. This will not even be a lander. It will make multiple flybys of Europa to collect remote sensing data on that moon. There have been proposals to send a lander to Europa, but they have not received much traction. These landers would do in-situ analyses of sampled material rather than returning sampled material to Earth. There has been at least one proposal for a sample and return mission to Europa, but it has not received any traction whatsoever on the basis of being too costly and being too likely to fail.


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