Monday, February 20, 2017

NASA plans to look for alien life on Europa

Via by Jasper Hamill

Europa is a frozen moon of Jupiter which looks totally inhospitable and barren, but might be hiding an amazing secret.

NASA believes there’s a gigantic ocean locked beneath its frozen surface and is planning to send a robotic craft to see if aliens are swimming in it.

This week, the space agency has revealed its three goals for the upcoming search for life.

It wrote: “The primary goal is to search for evidence of life on Europa.

“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.”

NASA has already begun thinking about the sort of craft it could use to find aliens in the extraterrestrial ocean and is developing underwater robotic explorers that will use artificial intelligence for signs of life.

But first it wants to send a lander to Europa to carry out reconnaissance and find concrete proof that there is an ocean lurking beneath its chilly crust.

“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 added.

“This ocean has at least twice as much water as Earth’s oceans.

“While recent discoveries have shown that many bodies in the solar system either have subsurface oceans now, or may have in the past, Europa is one of only two places where the ocean is understood to be in contact with a rocky sea floor (the other being Saturn’s moon Enceladus).

“This rare circumstance makes Europa one of the highest priority targets in the search for present-day life beyond Earth.”


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