NASA has been in discussion for years about launching a probe to Europa, and now it is settling on those plans. The organization has verified the next stage of its Europa Clipper mission, which will send an aircraft to the Jupiter moon to decide if it can support life. The decision enables progress toward testing and finishing a final design for the aircraft. The management is designing for a 2023 blast off target to guarantee a “cost-effective” procedure, but it is all set to blast off by 2025.
Scientists first showed their proposal in 2017 to NASA, disclosing a boxy lander that might study both the land and what’s underneath. The team did not need verification of the mission to commence—there have already been experiments for its data antenna.
The moon is possibly the best contender for life in the Solar System apart from Earth. Europa has a coating covered in water ice (there is even proof of salt). If there is a corresponding water ocean below the land, NASA may find proof of life—even if it is just the remains of an earlier epoch. Clipper might also assist decide the practicality of human exploration of Europa, even though any prospect of that is long away.
On a related note, the ocean that researchers believe exists below Europa’s thick icy layer may be more similar as compared to our own than earlier believed. As per a new study posted in Science Advances, a group of scientists employed the Hubble STIS (Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph) tool to scan Europa in infrared light. The group discovered irradiated sodium chloride’s “spectral signature,” also dubbed as table salt. Earlier in 2015, Kevin Hand (JPL scientist) put ocean salt samples in a lab below Europa-akin conditions and exposed it with radiation.
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