NASA plans to explore Europa in search of alien life

NASA plans to explore Europa in search of alien life

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) is planning to explore Jupiter’s icy moon Europa in search for some sort of alien life, the renowned American space agency has confirmed. NASA-appointed Science Definition Team (SDT) has been preparing a plan to send a spacecraft to Europa since early 2016. On Feb. 7th, that SDT delivered their first report to the agency, specifying their recommendations for a future Europa mission.

The team suggested that a space probe could be sent to Europa as soon as 2031, and the agency has announced a couple of town hall meetings, on March 19th in Texas and April 23rd in Arizona, to discuss the report and receive feedback from the science community.

SDT member Jonathan Lunine said, “Thanks to the engineers, a very practical solution was found and the payload we put together is not overly ambitious. The bottom line is I became much more of a believer that this is a mission that can be done in a time frame I’d be interested, in the next 20 years or so.”

NASA scientists believe that advanced Europa lander will be able to dig down up to 10 cm below the moon’s surface, and take samples of the icy exterior. An analysis of the material’s organic and inorganic contents will allow researchers to determine if the moon houses any kind of life.

As Europa contains a huge saltwater ocean beneath its icy crust, many scientists believe that it may have conditions suitable to host some sort of alien life in the form of microorganisms.

A report published by The Verge informed, "Once on the surface, the lander will have a suite of instruments designed to look for life and assess Europa’s habitability. It’s the first time NASA has developed a life-detection system of this kind since the Viking spacecraft, which the space agency sent to Mars in the 1970s. The Europa lander will include instruments like an Organic Compositional Analyzer, tasked with looking for organic compounds like amino acids, lipids, and more."