NASA mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa might end up attempting to find indicators of life on the icy, ocean-harboring world.
NASA officials have requested scientists to contemplate ways in which a Europa mission might seek for proof of alien life within the plumes of water vapor that apparently blast into space from Europa’s south polar area.
These plumes, which NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope noticed in December 2012, present a potential method to sample Europa’s ocean of liquid water, which is buried beneath the moon’s icy shell, researchers say. [Photos: Europa, Mysterious Icy Moon of Jupiter]
“That is our likelihood” to analyze whether or not or not life exists on Europa, NASA science chief John Grunsfeld mentioned right here Wednesday (Feb. 18) throughout a Europa plume workshop on the company’s Ames Analysis Heart in Silicon Valley. “I simply hope we do not miss this chance for lack of concepts.”
NASA has been engaged on Europa mission ideas for years. Certainly, last July, company officers requested scientists around the globe to propose instruments that might fly aboard a Europa-finding out spacecraft.
The search to discover the 1,900-mile wide moon got off to a good start earlier this month when the White Home allotted $30 million in its fiscal yr 2016 price range request to formulate a Europa mission. (NASA was allotted $18.5 billion within the request, which should nonetheless be authorised by Congress.)
NASA is zeroing in on a flyby mission design, something alongside the lines of an extended-studied idea known as the Europa Clipper. As presently envisioned, Clipper would journey to Jupiter orbit, then make forty five flybys of Europa over 3.5 years, at altitudes starting from sixteen miles to 1,700 miles..
The $2.1 billion mission would research Europa’s subsurface ocean, giving researchers a greater understanding of the water’s depth, salinity and different traits. The probe would additionally measure and map the moon’s ice shell, returning information that might be helpful for a future mission to the Europan floor. [Europa and Its Ocean (Video)]
And now, it seems, NASA wish to add plume sampling to the Europa mission’s job checklist, if doable. Grunsfeld urged workshop attendees to “think outside the box” and come up with other ways to study the moon’s plumes.