NASA Finally Starting a Mission to Search Jupiter’s Moon Europa for Life
ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.
Things are about to get a little bit more 2010: Odyssey Two at NASA as they’re finally preparing to go searching Jupiter’s moon, Europa, for life. It’s still a few years off at this point, but a robotic mission to sample the waters of Europa may be the best chance we have to find life elsewhere in our solar system.
But guys, we’re already searching for life on Mars, right? Why would we start looking on a moon that’s even farther away? Well, while the jury is still out on whether or not Mars currently holds any liquid water, Europa has basically been jumping up and down behind it trying to get our attention. The moon has been shooting geysers of liquid water from beneath its icy surface.
If you don’t know why water is so important in the search for life, let Neil deGrasse Tyson tell you:
Pretty much anywhere we find water, we find life. Man, he must be so pumped right now.
NASA is currently allocating $15 million dollars to begin planning in earnest a robotic mission to Europa that will make observations of its surface and hopefully take samples of its water. Don’t worry; it’s got plenty to spare. Europa’s subsurface ocean contains nearly twice as much water as the Earth.
It might not even be that hard to collect if they can manage to scoop up some of the water that’s been thrown onto the surface by the geysers. Either way, the mission could launch as soon as 2025 if all of the planning goes smoothly, and the probe would arrive at Europa in the early 2030s.
Only time will tell if the mission will be a success and whether or not we’re alone in our own solar system. The obstacles they’re currently working out solutions to are the high radiation levels around Europa, its massive physical distance from the Earth, and probably what to do in case there are a bunch of monoliths turning Jupiter into a star.
(via io9, image via NASA)