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February 22, 2015 | by  | in Science | [ssba]

NASA Plans a Trip to Europa

NASA has unveiled new plans to send a probe to Jupiter’s moon Europa, long speculated to harbour extra-terrestrial life.

Europa, one of Jupiter’s 67 confirmed moons, is well known for having a completely frozen surface. It’s basically a real-life Hoth. Data suggests that underneath the ice lies a vast ocean of liquid water. It is speculated that this planet-wide ocean could harbour aquatic alien life.

Thanks to a new budget approved by President Obama, NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory will have approval to create a new probe to shoot for the frozen moon and investigate. Using ground-penetrating radar and an infrared spectrometer, the Europa Clipper probe would rest in Jupiter’s orbit, performing a regular sweep for organic molecules that could indicate the presence of alien life on Europa’s surface. It would also aim to determine the thickness and composition of her icy exterior, and relay data back to Earth.

While the promise of finding alien neighbours in our solar system is appealing to scientists, politicians are yet to be convinced. Despite presidential approval, the new NASA budget has yet to be approved by Congress. Other outlined plans include a new Mars rover, as well as further preparations for a manned mission to the Red Planet.

 

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