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Space => Life on Other Worlds => Topic started by: Stacy Dohm on June 14, 2015, 12:37:33 am

Title: NASA confident about finding life on Europa
Post by: Stacy Dohm on June 14, 2015, 12:37:33 am
NASA confident about finding life on Europa
Posted on Friday, 29 May, 2015


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."

Title: Re: NASA confident about finding life on Europa
Post by: Stacy Dohm on June 14, 2015, 12:39:55 am
NASA plans to send robotic eel to Europa
Posted on Monday, 11 May, 2015 | Comment icon 19 comments

A concept image showing the proposed design of the eel-like rover. Image Credit: NASA
An unconventional type of rover could be used to explore the oceans beneath Jupiter's icy moon.
With its thick layer of surface ice and the potential for a vast subterranean ocean of liquid water, Europa remains one of the most tantalizing destinations in the solar system and one of the most likely places to find evidence of microbial alien life.

Exploring this freezing, distant moon however represents a significant technological challenge. Sending a conventional wheeled rover would be impractical both for traversing the icy surface and for exploring the oceans underneath.

To get around this problem, NASA has been funding a feasibility study in to a new type of underwater rover that would move a lot like a squid does as it travels through the water.

"This rover resembles a squid, with tentacle-like structures that serve both as electrodynamic tethers to harvest power from locally changing magnetic fields and as a means of bio-inspired propulsion," wrote Cornell University's Mason Peck who originally proposed the concept.

While still at the drawing board stage, this unusual rover design could make it possible for a future mission to explore beneath the ice and discover what lurks within Europa's oceans.