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Updated: August 8, 2013 15:03 IST

Jupiter’s moon Europa could hold life: NASA

  • PTI
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NASA scientists are casting a hopeful eye toward finding life on Europa.
NASA scientists are casting a hopeful eye toward finding life on Europa.

Europa — the sixth closest moon of Jupiter — is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life, according to NASA.

As NASA scientists continue to search for signs of past life on Mars, they’re also casting a hopeful eye toward finding life on Europa.

Most of what scientists know of Jupiter’s moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s, researchers said.

Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalising signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface.

Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life, NASA researchers said.

“If one day humans send a robotic lander to the surface of Europa, we need to know what to look for and what tools it should carry,” said Robert Pappalardo, the study’s lead author, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena.

“There is still a lot of preparation that is needed before we could land on Europa, but studies like these will help us focus on the technologies required to get us there, and on the data needed to help us scout out possible landing locations.”

“Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life today, and a landed mission would be the best way to search for signs of life,” said Pappalardo.

The team found the most important questions clustered around composition: what makes up the reddish “freckles” and reddish cracks that stain the icy surface? What kind of chemistry is occurring there? Are there organic molecules, which are among the building blocks of life?

Additional priorities involved improving images of Europa — getting a look around at features on a human scale to provide context for the compositional measurements, researchers said.

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The asteroid belt also lies between the Mars and Jupiter hence the moon
Europa does face the danger of hitting millions of asteroids. Anyway if
it does hold life we will be successful in finding something similar to
our planet and it might act as our makeshift destination when our planet
is in danger. The chances that it would support life are grim because it
is farther than the Mars is from the Sun and must have a temperature
lower than Mars, nonetheless a mission can be commissioned if the
chances of life are really more than that on Mars.

from:  satyender
Posted on: Aug 9, 2013 at 12:33 IST

Good news. We can plan a trip to Europa rather than to Europe.

from:  Rajendra Tandon
Posted on: Aug 8, 2013 at 17:31 IST

good news!!! hope no environment issues further!

from:  kalmesh bgm
Posted on: Aug 8, 2013 at 13:36 IST
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