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Joint life-seeking Europa mission proposed

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bison

Nothing seen in the article about the orbiter having the ability to sample the vapor plumes for signs of life.These plumes apparently vent from the ocean beneath the ice layer, and would seem to be a excellent opportunity, provided by nature, to study samples of the ocean directly. If Europa has life, it's almost certainly in the ocean.

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seanjo
19 hours ago, bison said:

Nothing seen in the article about the orbiter having the ability to sample the vapor plumes for signs of life.These plumes apparently vent from the ocean beneath the ice layer, and would seem to be a excellent opportunity, provided by nature, to study samples of the ocean directly. If Europa has life, it's almost certainly in the ocean.

 

It says the orbiter will take samples of "atmosphere" as it plummets, so I'm assuming it would have the equipment needed to sample plumes on board.

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bison

The vapor plumes are reportedly infrequent. Unless timed to drop through one of these in its mission-ending plunge, the probe would not be able to sample a plume, nor is such a plan mentioned. It sounds as if only routine analysis of atmospheric composition is contemplated.

In any case, life-detecting analyses might be too time-consuming to complete in the craft's terminal drop to the surface. Also, there could only be one such test, an undesirable limitation where the difficult business of detecting life is concerned.   

Edited by bison

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