The search for life beyond Earth by scientists isn’t a recent phenomenon. It dates back to several decades. Now, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking for the possibility of life on Jupiter’s moon Europa. The scientists, who are eyeing to explore the Europa surface via Europa Clipper Mission, are currently studying the effects of minimal impact on the surface. Europa, along with other moons of Jupiter, were discovered by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in the 17th century. However, scientists only got to know about the intricacies of the planet and its moon in the 1950s.
In its blog, NASA said that Europa have “conditions suitable for existing life”. This is because of its “salty ocean that lies under a thick layer of ice”.
Emily Costello, lead author of the study published in Nature Astronomy, said, “If we hope to find pristine, chemical biosignatures, we will have to look below the zone where impacts have been gardening. Chemical biosignatures in areas shallower than that zone may have been exposed to destructive radiation.” Costello is a planetary research scientist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The new mission, Europa Clipper, will hold a “series of close flybys of Europa as it orbits Jupiter.” The spacecraft is scheduled to take off in 2024. The spacecraft will carry instruments that will help the astronauts conduct a survey on the moon. Not only this, it will also help collect the sample of dust and gases. Speaking about the study, Cynthia Phillips, a Europa scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said, “This work broadens our understanding of the fundamental processes on surfaces across the solar system.”
Phillips, who is also the co-author of the study, added, “If we want to understand the physical characteristics and how planets in general evolve, we need to understand the role impact gardening has in reshaping them.”