Looking for life – Why NASA chose to go to Europa

Mystery Wire

MYSTERY WIRENASA scientists are hard at work designing a spacecraft that will make a mission of discovery to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. Scientists say Europa has a saltwater ocean and might be the most likely place in our solar system to contain life beyond Earth. The spacecraft, the Europa Clipper,  is scheduled to be launched by 2025, bound for one of Jupiter’s 79 known moons.

Below Europa’s cold, icy surface lies a deep, salty liquid water ocean which could be home to some form of life. Image Credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX/Univ. of Texas at Austin
Europa, one of Jupiter’s 79 known moons.

Why did NASA choose to go to Europa?

NASA claims the moon has a deep, saltwater ocean heated by hypothermal vents. But unlike here on Earth, this ocean is locked beneath 60 miles of ice.

Europa has a craggy and hostile surface which has been battered over millions, and possibly billions of years. However, it has also been protected by the massive presence of Jupiter.

The combination of water, chemicals, and heat make it possible that Europa contains life, not just microscopic life, but aquatic alien animals.

Author David Brown with his new book The Mission.

“It would almost be like a second Garden of Eden, in this case of the bottom of an ocean,” author David W. Brown recently told Mystery Wire. Brown has written The Mission, a book described as creative nonfiction. Brown describes what a discovery like that would mean here on earth.

“Well, it would have implications for religion, it would have implications for philosophy,” according to Brown. “And of course, it would have implications for biology. What would a creature look like that evolved from something that has no connection to us that doesn’t fit in our food chain? What does it even mean to be a human being in a universe with a creature that has no relation to you at all? Is it an equal? Is it a pet? How would you even think of it?”

Brown’s book describes the roller coaster ride taken by Europa proponents to get NASA’s approval for the upcoming mission, and why the Europa Clipper could make discoveries more profound than anything in NASA’s history.

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