NASA is now putting together a mission that will be exploring the possibility of alien life on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. The scientists find it difficult to sample the liquid water that is present on Europa as there is a thick layer of ice surrounding Europa. This is why the focus of this mission will be to look for alien life around the blasts of water vapour that are found near the polar regions of Europa.
The US Government has already allocated $18 million for the first phase of this mission. NASA is quite confident that the rest of the funding will also come through. The complete cost of the mission is estimated to be $2 billion.
The NASA mission will involve sending a vessel that will make 45 flybys around Europa. This should take nearly 3.5 years. This vessel will be collecting water samples from Europa.
In addition, it will also be taking images of the icy shell that is covering the surface of Europa. All this will help in planning out any future missions to Europa. The timelines for this mission are not any time soon. NASA is planning to send off a vessel by 2022 based on its current technology. It should be reaching Europa by 2030.
Europa is quite similar in size to that of our own moon. It has a surface of ice and minerals. In addition, there are streaks of materials that are criss-crossing it. This is something that the scientists are yet to find more about. Beneath this surface, many scientists believe that there is an ocean of unknown acidity or salinity. Scientists believe that alien life may exist in these deep oceans as it will be protected by the harsh radiations that affect the surface of Europa.
The mission is still undecided on the kind of vehicle it proposes to send for this mission. In case it sends an unmanned spacecraft that would require a lot of expensive instruments to collect and bring back material to check for organic compounds. This would require a lot of space that would be a constraint on the spacecraft. The needs for such tests would always be very broad as well as very specific. Thus it will always be a constraint. In addition, the chemical composition of this extraterrestrial is totally unknown.
This would be another challenge for the NASA scientists while planning this mission. Thus they are working on all these issues presently to make this mission a success.