WASHINGTON (CBS Tampa) – “All these worlds are yours, save Europa,” is the warning from the super advanced space aliens at the end of Arthur C. Clarke’s “2010: Odyssey 2.”
Since there are probably not any monolith-dropping beings in the vicinity, NASA has decided to take a visit to Jupiter’s most intriguing moon, reports CNet.
The space agency is asking Congress to bankroll a drive-by to find out if there is liquid water beneath the ice sheet that covers Europa.
Astronomers have long believed that a vast ocean may exist underneath the surface ice.
The moon is not solid ice because of a phenomenon called tidal flexing…the Europa is buffeted between the powerful gravity of its home planet and the other satellites that orbit Jupiter.
The constant movement heats up the water and is probably what causes the myriad of cracks observed on the surface.
Last month the Hubble Space Telescope spotted what look like geysers spraying from a region near Europa’s south pole.
Scientists reason that if there is a large volume of liquid water there, then Europa may be the best opportunity to find signs of life in our solar system.
NASA $17 billion budget request for fiscal year 2015 includes funds “for the formulation for a mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa.”
A mission to the moon would cost an estimated $2-3 billion.
But if they do find life there: priceless.
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