Members of Congress Pushing to Look for Life on Europa to Help Life on Earth
Despite warnings to attempt no landing there.
Europa is one of the strongest possibilities for finding alien life within our solar system, so it’s no surprise that NASA would want to explore it. The good news is that some members of congress think such a mission could benefit us Earthlings economically, which is good for its standing amid budget cuts.
We’ve written in the past about what a good idea the scientific community thinks it would be to look for life on Europa. Despite being a moon, it has an ocean under its icy crust that’s been observed shooting active plumes of water up from beneath its surface. Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to take an ice fishing trip there, and who could say no to that?
So, Our Friend Bill Nye and The Planetary Society took a trip to Washington, D.C. to hold a rally for NASA’s Europa mission, which he also did an AMA to promote. According to Jeff Foust of Space Politics, who was on the scene, support was in no short supply, because the mission stands to financially benefit a few congressional districts here on Earth.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose district is home to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, “Now, after years of struggle against shortsighted budget cuts by the administration that affect not only Europa, but a host of other NASA missions as well, it looks as if the dream is becoming a reality.”
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), whose district houses the Johnson Space Center that is collaborating with the Marshall Space Flight Center on NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System, wants to make sure that Europa is more than just a side project for NASA, saying, “We included language in this [appropriations] bill, and I’m proud to have been one of the drivers of that, to ensure that we have the money for the Europa flagship mission.”
It’s great to see both sides of congress coming together to support planetary science, and it’s great that some humans back on Earth will benefit from it, too. Nye said, “So if you want to have innovation and keep the United States competitive, we need, or we can very easily, invest in space. And right now, the most bang for your buck—the most effective space dollar—is planetary science.”
- Scientists think Europa is a much better place to look for life than Mars
- Bill Nye’s open letter to the president about the Planetary Science budget
- We used the Earth’s gravity to fling a satellite to Jupiter