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Europan Molecular Indicators of Life Investigation (EMILI) for a Future Europa Lander Mission

  • Brinckerhoff, William B.1
  • Willis, Peter A.2
  • Ricco, Antonio J.3
  • Kaplan, Desmond A.1, 4
  • Danell, Ryan M.1, 5
  • Grubisic, Andrej1
  • Mora, Maria F.2
  • Creamer, Jessica S.2
  • Noell, Aaron2
  • Stern, Jennifer1
  • Szopa, Cyril6
  • Freissinet, Caroline6
  • Kehl, Florian2
  • Zamuruyev, Konstantin2
  • Castle, Conner7
  • Spring, Justin7
  • Drevinskas, Tomas2
  • Badescu, Mircea2
  • Ferreira Santos, Mauro S.2
  • Jaramillo, Elizabeth A.2
  • And 9 more
  • 1 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD , (United States)
  • 2 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA , (United States)
  • 3 NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA , (United States)
  • 4 KapScience, LLP, Tewksbury, MA , (United States)
  • 5 Danell Consulting, Inc., Winterville, NC , (United States)
  • 6 Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS), Guyancourt , (France)
  • 7 Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corp., Altadena, CA , (United States)
  • 8 Mini-Mass Consulting, Hyattsville, MD , (United States)
  • 9 University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD , (United States)
  • 10 ATA Aerospace, Greenbelt, MD , (United States)
  • 11 Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA), Université Paris-Est, Créteil , (France)
  • 12 CentraleSupélec, Université Paris-Saclay, Paris , (France)
Published Article
Frontiers in Space Technologies
Frontiers Media S.A.
Publication Date
Jan 13, 2022
DOI: 10.3389/frspt.2021.760927
  • Space Technologies
  • Original Research


The Europan Molecular Indicators of Life Investigation (EMILI) is an instrument concept being developed for the Europa Lander mission currently under study. EMILI will meet and exceed the scientific and technical/resource requirements of the organic composition analyzer identified as a core instrument on the Lander. EMILI tightly couples two complementary analytical techniques, based on 1) liquid extraction and processing with capillary electrophoresis and 2) thermal and chemical extraction with gas chromatography, to robustly detect, structurally characterize, and quantify the broadest range of organics and other Europan chemicals over widely-varying concentrations. Dual processing and analysis paths enable EMILI to perform a thorough characterization of potential molecular biosignatures and contextual compounds in collected surface samples. Here we present a summary of the requirements, design, and development status of EMILI with projected scientific opportunities on the Europa Lander as well as on other potential life detection missions seeking potential molecular biosignatures in situ.

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