NASA is donating $ 178 million to SpaceX to help launch a mission to Europa, an ice moon with the potential for life, the space agency announced Friday.
The main goal of the mission, called Europa Clipper, is to determine if Jupiter’s icy moon has conditions suitable for life. The project, “Earth’s first mission to conduct detailed investigations of Jupiter’s moon Europa,” will be launched in October 2024 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to a NASA statement on Friday.
The mission aims to produce high-resolution images of Europa’s surface, determine its composition, study ongoing geological activity, measure the thickness of the moon’s frozen shell, search for underground lakes, and measure the depth and salinity of its ocean, he says. the statement. .
“Scientists are pretty sure there is a vast ocean underneath Europa’s frozen shell,” NASA said.
Europa Clipper will try to confirm the presence of this ocean, which may contain elements necessary to sustain life.
One of four sister satellites discovered by the famous astronomer Galileo, Europa has a surface composition mainly of ice, according to observations by the Earth’s telescope in the 1960s.
The data suggests that a salty ocean beneath Europa’s crust contains more water than Earth’s oceans, according to NASA. The researchers also predict that a rocky bottom could be on the ocean floor, causing interactions that they could createchemical nutrients for living organisms.
NASA’s Galileo mission, launched in 1989, offers some of the “best evidence” of an ocean over Europe, NASA said. The Galileo spacecraft has detected a magnetic field that scientists believe may have been created by “a global ocean of salt water”.
Images of Galileo and other spacecraft also show that the moon does not have many craters, which scientists think may be the result of “geological activity, such as warmer ice rising from below, …
Scientists also believe that chemical ingredients essential for life such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur were likely present on Europa when it formed.
NASA scientists predict that living organisms on Europa would likely obtain energy through chemical reactions rather than photosynthesis. While Jupiter’s radiation means life probably couldn’t survive on the moon’s surface, it can help fuel life in a subsurface ocean by leveraging water molecules and leaving “very reactive” oxygen to be used in reactions. chemicals that release energy for organisms to use.
[ https://bbcbreakingnews.com/2021/07/24/nasa-gives-spacex-178-million-to-help-launch-mission-to-search-for-life-on-jupiters-moon-europa/ https://d26toa8f6ahusa.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/30214746/a-quiet-place-part-2-bigs-16.pdf