Back in 1610, Galileo Galilei discovered one of the moons that gravitate around Jupiter and called it Europa, the lover of Zeus whose Greek version is Jupiter. This is one of the most peculiar space objects in our Solar System. Its surface is the smoothest one in the Galaxy even though it is full of streaks and cracks. This peculiarity encouraged scientists to believe that water is present beneath it. Together with the fact that its atmosphere has oxygen, there are enough signs that this Jupiter moon can host living creatures.
Europa is just slightly smaller than our moon, and its main composition is of silicate rock while the core is made of an iron-nickel material. However, the fascinating thing about it is the surface which is probably a water-ice crust. Beneath this surface, scientists believe that there is liquid water. As the evolution of life on our Earth shows that no creature can live without water, this is a good enough sign for astronomers to believe Europa is or was the home of alien life.
Jupiter was visited before by NASA probe flybys in the 1970s. It was called the Galileo mission. However, the probes couldn’t take samples from the Europa oceans as they are believed to exist behind up to 15 miles thick sheet of ice. However, a new report from NASA mentions a future mission. This one will have three main goals.
First of all, astronomers want to find out once and for all if Earth is truly one of a kind space object, capable of sustaining life. Secondly, NASA wants to take samples off Europa and determine if it is a habitable place. Last but not least, the mission will have to find out what there is underneath the thick layer of ice and if future robots will be able to explore the space body in depth for a longer period of time.
For this particular mission on the Jupiter moon, NASA will employ a lander that is capable of drilling the icy crust. The length of the mission will be 20 days as this is the maximum the batteries of the equipment will last. Thus, scientists will not instruct the lander to travel and explore Europa. Instead, it will assume a stationary position and will dig for as many samples as possible during the few days it has on Jupiter moon. However, the report didn’t mention any official date for the mission, which makes it a conceptual project.
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