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NASA to Send a Life-Detecting Spacecraft to Jupiter's Moon Europa

Feb 13, 2017 02:02 PM EST
Hubble Space Telescope Images Released
Jupiter's moon Europa is on the spotlight once again as NASA commissioned scientists to work on a lander that will survive on the planet.
(Photo : ASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team via Getty Images)

The search is on! NASA isn't just looking for signs of microbial life on Mars, but the agency will also launch a search on one of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

Due to the chemistry on Europa, scientists believe that the moon possesses the right composition to cater life. To prove or disprove that, a spacecraft designed to detect life may be launched.

NASA reportedly assembled a team of scientists to design a Europa lander last year. Recently, the team -- composed of 21 scientists -- was tasked to study the feasibility of building a life-detecting spacecraft to Europa.

In a recent report called the "Europa Lander Mission Pre-Phase A," the scientists explained why the agency is interested in the search for life in Europa. The paper also discussed some properties of the lander that will be vital in the search for life on the surface of Europa.

In the report, the scientists said that Europa, which is approximately the size of Earth's moon, could contain a liquid water ocean beneath its thin icy surfae. 

"This ocean exists today and it has possibly persisted for much of the history of the solar system," the team added. "Europa's ocean is probably in contact with a rocky, silicate seafloor, which may lead to an ocean rich in the elements and energy needed for the emergence of life, and for potentially sustaining life through time."

Aside from detecting signs of life in Europa, the agency is also looking at the search for the habitability of the moon, according to Engadget. NASA is not taking the mission lightly as a Europa Multiple Flyby Mission is already scheduled to launch by 2020.

Building a concept for the Europa lander is not the toughest part of the job. Scientists will have to device a way to find materials that would enable the spacecraft to journey (and survive) Jupiter.


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