Space Exploration: NASA Confirms Mission to Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Jun 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm |

NASA Has Officially Greenlighted a Mission to Study Europa and Look for Alien Oceans

Are Aliens Real?

Did you know that besides Earth, the place in our Solar System that’s most likely to support life is Europa, one of Jupiter’s 67 moons?

Europa  the fourth-largest of Jupiter’s Galilean moons – was discovered in 1610 by Galileo, and has been the object of our fascination ever since. Being only slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon, Europa has a water-ice crust and an atmosphere that mainly consists of oxygen. This has led scientists to believe that the satellite has oceans, the most likely indicator of extraterrestrial life.

The Mission

The lengthy mission would study Europa’s atmosphere and composition by orbiting Jupiter, thereby avoiding the planet’s harmful radiation fields. This would give the NASA spacecraft the opportunity to conduct flybys of Europa every two weeks with the plan of making about 45 flybys total. It would take between one and six years for the probe to reach Jupiter’s orbit, and then the mission would last for several years.

One of Europa’s most fascinating features is its “plumes,” or what appears to be an ongoing eruption of water and vapor high into space. This NASA mission would hope to pass through such an eruption and sample the water, testing for the possibility of nutrients and life in the moon’s subsurface ocean.

The exciting mission is likely to cost upwards of $2 billion, and the probe would launch in the mid 2020s at the earliest. Check out the video below to learn more from experts at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

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If there’s life out there, this icy moon of Jupiter is the most likely place to host it. Find out why!