Space & Astronomy
NASA confident about finding life on Europa
By T.K. Randall
May 29, 2015 · 23 comments
Europa is a prime candidate for locating evidence of alien life. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
The space agency has outlined its upcoming mission to determine if Jupiter's icy moon is habitable.
Thought to be home to an ocean of liquid water situated deep down beneath a thick icy crust, Europa remains one of the most promising places to look for life within our own solar system.
In a new mission scheduled to launch in the 2020s, NASA will be using a total of nine different instruments to ascertain whether the Jovian moon is likely to be capable of supporting life.
Scientists have long suspected that heat rising from the bottom of Europa's subterranean ocean could provide a habitable environment for primitive life forms in much the same way as hydrothermal vents provide a haven for life forms in the deepest recesses of Earth's oceans.
"After five billion years with conditions like that, it could be a very habitable place," said NASA's Jim Green. "We believe the environment is just perfect for the potential development of life."
"If we do find life or indications of life that will be an enormous step forward in our understanding of our place in the universe. If there's life in the solar system and in Europa in particular, it must be everywhere in our galaxy and perhaps even in the universe."
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