Call for Letters of Application for Membership on NASA’s Science Definition Team for Europa Lander Pre-Phase A Study

The Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate plans to conduct a Pre-Phase A study of a Europa lander mission concept. This study will build upon previous NASA studies with a goal to defining the science objectives and feasibility of specific lander mission concept focused on assessing the habitability of and searching for life on Europa. NASA invites scientists and other qualified and interested individuals at U.S. institutions to apply for membership on the Europa Lander Science Definition Team (SDT).

Members of the SDT will provide the technical team and NASA with scientific assistance and input during preliminary mission design. Near-term activities of the SDT will include the establishment of prioritized science objectives and a realistic scientific concept of operations, development and assessment of alternative architectures, including model payload/instrument suites for proof of concept, and suggestions for threshold science objectives/measurements for a viable mission within resource constraints provided by NASA. NASA will use the products of this study for planning purposes. The SDT will be formed in March 2016 and will be disbanded after the work is complete.

The SDT will:

  1. Identify and prioritize science objectives to be addressed by the lander mission concept.
  1. Participate in a Pre-Phase A mission concept study designed to address those science objectives. Aspects of this participation will include:
  • Science traceability, identification of measurements, and specification of model payload
  • Science concept of operations
  • Participation in tradeoffs among scientific value, cost, and risk
  1. Assist in the preparation of study reports.

Volunteers selected for membership will have demonstrated expertise and knowledge in areas highly relevant to science relevant for the lander mission concept. NASA anticipates the selection of approximately seven to ten SDT members. Representative(s) from the NASA Planetary Science Division will serve as ex officio members of the SDT.


Responses to this Call for Membership in the SDT shall be in the form of a Letter of Application. The Letter of Application should provide clearly defined evidence of the candidate’s relevant demonstrated experience and background. The Letter of Application may also contain a brief list of references to scientific or technical peer-reviewed papers the applicant has published that formally establish their position of scientific leadership in the community; this list is not included in the page count limitation below. The letter should also contain a statement confirming the applicant’s time availability during the next twelve months to participate on the SDT, particularly if there are any major schedule constraints that may restrict engagement at critical times. The expected time commitment would include the following:

  • Weekly to biweekly teleconferences beginning in April 2016
  • Two face-to-face meetings in the first half of 2016
  • Preparation and review of materials for the final report
  • Additional teleconferences and face-to-face meetings as the SDT deems appropriate

Note that a significant amount of the interaction among the SDT is anticipated to be via E-mail and webex.

Letters of Application are invited only from individuals, and group applications will not be considered. In addition, collaborations and teams will not be considered.

Each Letter of Application, limited to one page, shall be submitted by E-mail no later than March 18, 2016 (11:59 p.m. EST), to Dr. Curt Niebur at the address below. The subject line of the E-mail should include “Europa Lander SDT”.

The issuance of this Call for Letters of Application does not obligate NASA to accept any of the applications. Any costs incurred by prospective investigators in preparing submissions in response to this Call are incurred completely at the submitter’s own risk.

Dr. Curt Niebur
Planetary Sciences Division
Science Mission Directorate
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone:  202-358-0390