BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Since humans first landed on our moon in 1969, they have been trying to explore new moons. The next one that NASA has targeted for exploration is Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon.
Some older reports on Europa suggest that the moon may be suitable for sustaining life. Thus, NASA reported the potential scientific value of the findings that a lander could make on the surface of Europa and they are now discussing the possibility of sending one to Jupiter’s moon. They are trying to make the entire scientific community aware of the importance of such a mission.
Last year, NASA started the study in which they asked 21 scientists to make designs for a lander that might be able to explore the surface of Europa. Also, they were asked to determine if such a mission was possible and what valuable information it could bring. Although the mission was an extensive one, the team of scientists finished the report only after eight months.
The main goal of this experiment is to establish if Europa has all the suitable conditions to sustain life. Then, after assessing materials gathered from its surface, they will establish the habitability of the moon and characterize the surface. Thus, they will see how to design their future robot landers to explore as much of the surface as possible, together with its ocean.
Their analysis performed so far suggests that Europa may have a global saltwater ocean whose bottom may be made of rocky silicates. The scientists suspect that this silicate floor might be the one that contains what is necessary for the existence of life.
NASA has already started planning a flyby mission to Europa in a solar-powered shuttle. This mission is scheduled sometime at the beginning of 2020s. This solar spacecraft is different from those designed by the 21 scientists. It is bound to reach Jupiter’s moon after a journey of several years and will orbit Jupiter every two weeks to achieve a number of 45 flybys of Europa.
At the beginning, this mission’s goal is to establish if Europa is habitable or not. Then, they will collect data which will help them in the preparation for an actual landing on the icy moon of Jupiter.
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