Published: 2:51 PM 2/22/2015
... to get some samples from Europa’s conceivably life-hosting oceans.
By Alex Hull
Alien life has long been a subject of interest for space experts and some parts of the general public alike. Now their questions might be soon answered thanks to a future mission on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.
Even if Europa is only almost a quarter of the span of Earth, it has about twice as much fluid salt water when compared to the total volume of water found on our planet.
The large seas lying underneath its external shell are the ones that prompted scientists to think that if there is any alien life in your solar system than it is probably found in Europa’s oceans.
Presently, researchers are closer to discovering whether there is life on this cold world. The 2016 government budget share for NASA includes some money for a mission to Europa and this may bring a probe that will serve as an extraterrestrial life hunter.
The present mission concept dubbed as the Europa Clipper includes sending a shuttle to circle Jupiter and make a few flybys of Europa throughout three and a half years. The $2.1-billion mission would examine and take photographs of the moon to give scientists a better insight on water properties such as its depth and saltiness. The space apparatus would likewise map and measure the frosty shell, which could be pivotal for future ventures on the satellite’s surface.
Nevertheless, researchers need to come up with a method to identify signs of life on Europe. This requirement prompted a dedicated workshop held at NASA’s Ames Research Center on Wednesday that had space experts and astrobiologists examine approaches for discovering life on Saturn’s satellite.
One of the astrobiologists, Kevin Hand, from California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory made a few comments with the occasion:
“Europa is clearly such a prime target for astrobiology that having a workshop like this to try and figure out all the ways in which we could possibly sample its ocean… is critically important.”
Despite the fact that the mission has been reviewed for some time now, researchers presently consider adapting it to additionally incorporate instruments that are fit for detecting life forms.
NASA has officially asked researchers to think of approaches to discover signs of life in the crest of water vapor that seemed to have busted from the satellite’s south polar area. Specialists noted that the plumes could provide an opportunity to get some samples from Europa’s conceivably life-hosting oceans.