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18/06/2015 14:46 BST | Updated 18/06/2015 14:59 BST

NASA: Mission To Jupiter's Moon Europa Gets Go Ahead

We're one step closer to finding life on Jupiter's moon Europa as NASA announced the project's move into a new phase of its development.

The moon is considered to be essential in the search for signs of present-day life in our solar system and this new operation allows researchers to further investigate it's habitability.

The new phase of the project is being named 'formulation' and this stage comes after it's first major review was accepted.

jupiter moon europa

Totally awesome... NASA image of the moon Europa

John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said: "Today we're taking an exciting step from concept to mission, in our quest to find signs of life beyond Earth"

"Observations of Europa have provided us with tantalising clues over the last two decades, and the time has come to seek answers to one of humanity's most profound questions."

Although the project is still in early stages, it's not the first time that researchers have been interested in the habitable potential of Jupiters' ice-crusted moon.

A mission named 'Galileo' was launched in the 1990's and its discoveries include the imperative evidence that the moon has an ocean beneath it's frozen crust.

In 2014 NASA celebrated 25 years since the Galileo probe:

If the new mission proves that the predictions from Galileo are correct then Europa could have everything it needs to support simple organisms.

If the 'formulation' process moves forward a spacecraft could be on its way to Jupiter as early as 2020.

When in orbit the spacecraft would image the moons icy surface at high resolution and investigate its composition and the structure of it's interior and icy shell.

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Joan Salute, Europa program executive at NASA said: "It's a great day for science,"

"We are thrilled to pass the first major milestone in the lifecycle of a mission that will ultimately inform us on the habitability of Europa."