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NASA plans to look for alien life on Europa

Posted on Friday, 10 February, 2017 | Comment icon 15 comments

NASA conceptual image of a possible lander design for a Europa mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
Scientists are hoping to develop a mission to learn once and for all whether there is life on Europa.
When it comes to seeking out signs of extraterrestrial life within our own solar system, no target has proven more tantalizing than Jupiter's moon Europa - a world thought to be home to a potentially habitable ocean of liquid water hidden deep beneath a thick icy exterior shell.

Now NASA has revealed new details of its plans to visit this enigmatic world in the future.

"The primary goal is to search for evidence of life on Europa," the space agency wrote.

"The other goals are to assess the habitability of Europa by directly analysing material from the surface, and to characterise the surface and subsurface to support future robotic exploration of Europa and its ocean."

One of the ways in which NASA is looking to accomplish these objectives is by sending a lander to Europa that can take a much closer look at its surface and find out for certain whether or not there really is a subterranean ocean beneath the ice.

"Scientists agree that the evidence is quite strong that Europa, which is slightly smaller than Earth's moon, has a global saltwater ocean beneath its icy crust," NASA wrote.

"This ocean has at least twice as much water as Earth's oceans."

Whether there are extraterrestrial life forms living in this ocean however remains to be seen.

Source: | Comments (15)

Tags: Europa, Jupiter

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Rolci on 10 February, 2017, 23:21
All these worlds are yours...
Comment icon #7 Posted by taniwha on 11 February, 2017, 1:21
No wonder the concept drawing looks so unrealistically out of date.
Comment icon #8 Posted by taniwha on 11 February, 2017, 1:24
I don't want to burst the bubble but I'm guessing there won't be.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Torviking on 11 February, 2017, 2:12
All these worlds are yours Earthmen EXCEPT EUROPA. Attempt no landings there....
Comment icon #10 Posted by Torviking on 11 February, 2017, 2:15
Europa lander..."Will I dream Dr Chandra?".
Comment icon #11 Posted by qxcontinuum on 11 February, 2017, 5:18
Comment icon #12 Posted by seanjo on 11 February, 2017, 12:23
Probably, but they believe there is a salt water "Ocean" under the ice and with the gravitational pull of Jupiter causing geological stress, there is also heat within the core of Europa, these are prime conditions for a warm ocean with oasis's of black smokers encouraging life to grow and thrive.
Comment icon #13 Posted by taniwha on 11 February, 2017, 19:01
Thanks seanjo for the tip, I found this snippet about black smokers and thought others might enjoy it too.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Aardvark-DK on 16 February, 2017, 8:57
I mis-read this as "In Europa"...and thought "not that hard to find here..."
Comment icon #15 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 16 March, 2017, 18:53
It seems we are going to have to wait a few years longer for a Europa lander. The FY2018 budget proposal contains no funding for this mission.

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