"If we could discover an ocean on
Europa ... unbelievable!"

-- Dan Goldin,
NASA Administrator, 1995

The Europa Enigma

Shortly after the first NASA unmanned Voyager mission to Jupiter, in March, 1979, Richard C. Hoagland published in Star & Sky magazine a radical new theory -- regarding implications stemming from Voyager's historic fly-by and data return from one of the "Galilean moons":


Hoagland proposed that a planet-wide ocean still exists under the tens-of-miles-thick sulphur-tinged ice now completely covering Europa. Further, that in that extremely ancient ocean -- the only other planetary "near-by" liquid water that may have persisted from the beginnings of the solar system (other than on Earth)--

Life may have once originated ... an alien type of life that -- because of the present uniqueness of Europa in the entire solar system -- currently might still exist ...

At the time, Hoagland's theory encountered overwhelming opposition from almost everyone at NASA, official and/or scientist ... except for two significant exceptions: inventor of the communications satellite, famed science and science fiction writer ("2001: A Space Odyssey"), Arthur C. Clark; and, Dr. Robert Jastrow -- one of the founders of NASA, and former Director of its Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Based on Hoagland's startling theory, Clark two years later would create a sequel to his most famous work ("2010: Odyssey Two" -- after long claiming that such a follow-on was "impossible"). This would then be followed by a movie sequel (co-written and directed by Peter Hyams) of the same name.

In the acknowledgments to "2010," Clark would write:

"The fascinating idea that there might be life on Europa, beneath ice-covered oceans kept liquid by the same Jovian tidal forces that heat Io, was first proposed by Richard C. Hoagland in the magazine Star & Sky ( The Europa Enigma,' January, 1980). This quite brilliant concept has been taken seriously by a number of astronomers (notably NASA's Institute of Space Studies, Dr. Robert Jastrow), and may provide one of the best motives for the projected GALILEO Mission..."

NASA's long-awaited unmanned GALILEO follow-on to Voyager -- consisting of a separable instrumented "probe" (designed to actually plummet into the huge Jovian atmosphere and report back its findings), and a much longer-lived "orbiter" loaded with cameras and other sensors (for close-up surveys of the planet and its unique space environment, including the "Galilean moons") -- finally reached Jupiter on December 7, 1995. The probe successfully streaked into Jupiter's crushing atmosphere that afternoon, sending back 54 minutes of invaluable data as it fell ... before the rising temperatures and pressures silenced it forever; meanwhile, the Orbiter successfully fired its own retrorockets -- becoming the second manmade object to be forever captured by the giant planet Jupiter.

In a few short months, after completing its first elongated swing around the largest of known planets, the Orbiter portion of the GALILEO spacecraft will have an opportunity to turn its wide variety of sensors for the first time on Europa -- only one of the many Jupiter "Galilean moon" encounters planned for the next two-years.

And, in an astonishing reversal of their previous opinions, NASA's entire Galileo team (if not all of NASA itself) is now on record as "eagerly awaiting confirmation of the existence of Europa's planet-wide, ice-covered ocean via GALILEO information" -- if not what may lurk below ...

Included in this vocal outpouring of "new Europa interest" is NASA's present Administrator, Dan Goldin (see above).

At the University of Washington (Seattle), a team of oceanographers is even now busily creating (for an official NASA mission proposal) a full-scale, unmanned robotic expedition to Europa -- to follow GALILEO. The idea: to remotely explore Europa's oceans from the Earth ... to actively seek out "the new life forms" that Hoagland first proposed, and Arthur Clarke then made seem so real.

Remarkable, totally unacknowledged amid all this new interest in "Europa"-- by either NASA, the GALILEO scientists, or the busy oceanographers at the University of Washington -- is the originator of this remarkable idea, himself ...

Here, then, is Hoagland's original, unedited, highly controversial 1980 STAR & SKY "Europa Proposal" -- even as an official NASA mission, 16 years after it was written -- clandestinely explores its implications. Enjoy.

In order to offer genuine authenticity of this document, these are scanned images of the actual article.