In search of alien life, NASA has officially begun mission plans for Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa, with NASA setting aside $15 million dollars of its 2015 budget proposal to begin organizing an exploratory mission to the water-based moon. Although the details still remain largely ambiguous, the motives to visit the moon are clear, to visit the water rich moon in hopes of discovering alien life. NASA engineers have an incredible task ahead of them, landing a robotic system on the moon poses many difficult challenges.
Europa is one of Jupiter’s fascinating moons, orbiting the gas giant 484 million miles away from Earth. NASA scientists agree Europa is one of the solar system’s most compelling subjects being a frozen moon who’s composition has been proven to contain a solid frozen water surface and an oxygen atmosphere. The solid icy surface has created complex systems of crisscrossed fractures over a smooth alien surface. Although Europa has an oxygen atmosphere, it has been determined by NASA that the atmosphere is extremely thin, too thin for humans to breathe. One day on Europa is roughly three to five days on Earth, while it takes 12 years for the moon to complete a sun cycle. Like Earth’s moon, Europa is locked by the gravitational pull of Jupiter with the same surface always facing its gas giant host.
Eight spacecrafts, including the revered Galileo, have visited the alien moon in casual but informative fly-bys. NASA scientists speculate the frozen moon contains a heated core, fusing with its frozen outer casing an alien ocean containing twice as much water as Earth. With an abundance of liquid water, a protective frozen outer casing, and energetic chemistry enacted by the moon’s tidal heating, NASA scientists agree Europa is the most promising candidate to posses alien life. In search of this alien life, NASA has officially begun mission plans for the promising moon Europa.
Thanks to last year’s discovery of shooting liquid plumes of water escaping Europa’s ice, NASA scientists report that these water jets may work as a cheaper alternative to investigating the moon’s chemistry. Instead of landing a robotic space craft on the icy surface, NASA engineers believe flying through these water jets could give NASA viable information. Although this idea is promising it does not encompass the larger goal that NASA hopes to accomplish, the discovery of alien life. Although Mars is receiving the majority of space project finances, many astronomers are lobbying for Europa with its competitively higher chances of finding alien life.
NASA will continue to look into the plethora of competing mission ideas for Europa, contending to the mission of discovering alien life. With liquid oceans, a protective frozen outer-casing and tidal heating, there is a strong incentive for NASA to pursue missions to the frozen moon. Since the Europa missions have yet to reach a constructive plan, the cost of the mission is inconceivable. NASA can only speculate that the mission will require several billion dollars and the combined efforts of NASA’s greatest scientists. As NASA begins mission plans to Europa in search of alien life, alien life enthusiasts sit back with their fingers crossed, hoping the mission finally proves that we are not alone in the universe.
Editorial By Zane Foley