NASA will look for life in Europe. The mission got a green light

The American Space Agency NASA has just boasted that the Europa Clipper mission got green light. This means that we will soon learn more about the secrets of Jupiter's moon - Europe.

It is about the secrets hidden in the ocean there, which we have suspected since the 90s, when the Galileo probe was looking at Europe. This ocean is to be under a thick ice cover, and its depth at the lowest point will reach 170 km.

Europa Clipper will look for life on Jupiter's moon

The ocean itself is obviously not that interesting. It's something else. There is a good chance that somewhere at the bottom of this deep ocean there are geothermal sources. And this in turn means a chance for conditions favorable for biogenesis - that is, the emergence of life there. This theory has also been tested in laboratory conditions on Earth.

How? Scientists from NASA prepared a large tank with seawater and ground, whose chemical composition resembled the Earth's seabed 4 billion years ago. We are talking here about choosing the right minerals, the proportion of ammonia, pyruvic acid, etc. Considering the fact that the theory of marine biogenesis assumes a large share of geothermal sources, the entire marine, laboratory mixture has been heated to 70 degrees C.

The first effects of the experiment? After adding iron hydroxide (a chemical that was quite abundant in the oceans 4 billion years ago), it turned out that as a result of its reaction with oxygen, simple amino acids began to form. Theoretically, if the experiment was run long enough, these simple relationships could begin to form more complex bonds and - with a little luck - one of these more complex chains could come alive.

- We have shown that in geological conditions, similar to those that existed on our planet 4 billion years ago and may exist on other planets, amino acids and alpha-hydroxy acids can be formed. - says Laurie Barge, NASA astrobiologist, who co-conducted the entire study.

Although the NASA experiment was based on the conditions of ancient Earth, it actually focused on the conditions needed for biogenesis elsewhere in space. NASA has two types. It's about Enceladus (Saturn's moon) and Europe. This does not mean, however, that the existence of Europe's ocean and active geothermal sources will automatically make us find any living organisms there. But without checking it, we can only guess.

Europa Clipper will launch in 2025.

The exact date has not been given yet. We only know that the probe will be equipped with a set of the latest measuring devices: cameras, spectrometer, magnetometer, radar and all auxiliary instruments that facilitate the search for life.

Unfortunately, due to radiation and conditions prevailing near Europe (and Jupiter), Clipper will not orbit the moon itself. Instead, it will be controlled in such a way as to make several closer passes over its surface.

This sounds unimpressive, given that the same agency plans to send a submarine probe on the moons of Saturn and Titan. If these projects come to fruition, we will definitely get much more valuable data with them than from a probe that will fly several times over a thick layer of ice covered Europe. Let us hope that this is enough to say definitively about the existence or non-existence of life in Europe.

NASA will look for life in Europe. The mission got a green light


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