Forbes: New NASA mission to Investigate ‘Europa’ for signs of life

Forbes: New NASA mission to Investigate ‘Europa’ for signs of life
NASA's Clipper mission to Jupiter's second (of four) large moons, Europa, will perform at least 45 close flybys of its main target to assess Europa as a location for potential habitability or biological activity within the own Solar System.

According to a report by Forbes, the mission will monitor its surface, subsurface ocean, and atmosphere for a series of signatures that could reveal information vital to the scientists.

In 2023, a new NASA mission, the Europa Clipper, will investigate Europa for biosignatures.

This orbiter will utilize nine instruments to investigate Europa's oceans and atmosphere. Dozens of flybys will reveal their compositions, temperatures, depths, salinities, time-variations, etc.

With life teeming beneath Earth's Antarctic ices, Europa may be humanity's best hope for discovering extraterrestrial life.

The biggest question facing humanity might be, "Does life exists beyond Earth?"

When a planet transits in front of its parent star, some of the light is not only blocked, but if an atmosphere is present, filters through it, creating absorption or emission lines that a sophisticated-enough observatory could detect. If there are organic molecules or large amounts of molecular oxygen, we might be able to find that, too. It's important that we consider not only the signatures of life we know of, but of possible life that we don't find here on Earth.

Other solar systems might possess advanced or planet-altering biological activity, but simple life could exist right here.

In our own Solar System, eight different worlds might be home to unicellular life. Europa, among the Solar System largest moons, might experience the most life-friendly conditions.

While liquid oceans cover 70% of our surface, diminutive Europa has more water than planet Earth.

Beneath a thick layer of water-ice, Europa's interior experiences high pressures and temperatures essential for life.

Nearby, massive Jupiter exerts tidal forces on Europa, heating its core while shearing and cracking its icy surface. The internal heat melts Europa's pressurized ice, creating a deep, liquid ocean. Hydrothermal vents should line the seafloor: where energy gradients could enable life.