NASA has fresh hope of finding signs of alien life

NASA has fresh hope of finding signs of alien life

NASA has fresh hope of finding signs of alien life

Although slightly smaller than Earth's moon, Europa is estimated to hold twice as much water as our planet underneath its frozen surface.

But the probe never directly encountered any of that water - or so scientists thought at the time. The plumes of water vapor likely originate from this ocean.

The study, led by Xianzhe Jia, of the University of MI, seems to confirm an idea that had already arisen from observations of the Hubble Space Telescope taken in 2012.

Europa is our best shot of finding biological life in the solar system, researchers say.

The implications could be enormous.

Recent evidence obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope was what prompted scientists like Jia to take another look at data from Galileo's journey into Jupiter, which dates back to 1997 when it is suspected that the spacecraft flew through a plume of water that was erupting from Europa.

But now, as Sarah Kaplan reports for The Washington Post, a new study reviewing 20-year-old data from the Galileo spacecraft's flybys of Europa adds to the mounting evidence that the plumes are indeed real. Nutrients sprayed onto the ice by the nearby volcanic moon Io, the thinking goes, may sink down to the ocean floor and serve as food.

More news: Results, stats for Cup race at Kansas Speedway

Based on what the scientists learned from exploring the water vapor plumes in Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, and after conducting several studies in three dimensions, they concluded that this type of superficial movement also occurs in Europa. But until now, solid evidence has been hard to come by.

Checking for the presence of the water plumes on Europa, the Jupiter's icy moon, is, thus, of utmost significance and is getting closer to being a real thing because a United States science team managed to rebuild a 3D model of one of the plumes, basing themselves on the data collected by Galileo probe.

Europa Clipper's instruments will be capable of "sniffing" the atmosphere of Europa, with more than 40 planned flybys. They found that a sudden blast of water from the Jovian moon explained the Galileo probe's unusual measurements.

Margaret Kivelson was a project scientist during the Galileo mission and is an author of the new study.

But the closest flyby in 1997 created data that perplexed Kivelson and others on Galileo's science team.

Now that we have the geysers to sail through, some of Clipper's gear, like the instruments meant to detect the tiniest traces of water in the atmosphere, might not be as useful as NASA thought it would be.

This new discovery used data collected much closer to the source and is considered strong, corroborating support for plumes. This led the scientists to conclude that Hubble had indeed seen plumes on Europa, and Galileo must have flown near or through one.

More news: Are Analysts Bearish CLS Holdings plc (LON:CLI) After Last Week?

"With the Hubble data in hand", Dr. Kivelson said, "we had an idea of how big a plume might be reasonable".

Jia hopes this paper will inspire fellow researchers to keep looking at Europa's plumes.

"When we first saw those images, I think a lot of us in the community were very excited", says planetary scientists Xianzhe Jia from the University of MI. "We can even collect dust particles".

The space agency is priming two probes, including one that will land on its surface, to explore the distant moon in detail within the next decade, the agency says.

"These findings will help plan future missions to Europa, such as NASA's Europa Clipper and ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer spacecraft, both of which are expected to arrive at Jupiter between the late 2020s and early 2030s", said a Nature summary. One flyby in December 1997 came within 400 kilometers of the surface-much closer than Hubble, which in low Earth orbit is at least 600 million kilometers away. That would give it unprecedented access to visuals of plumes and the ability to taste of their water for salts, organic compounds, and other chemicals. Researchers think the geyser material is coming from Enceladus' ocean, so flying through the moon's plume provides a possible way to search for signs of life on Enceladus without even touching down.

He added: "If there's life at Europa, it'd nearly certainly be an independently evolved form of life". Would it use the same chemistry to store and use energy?

More news: Diego Simeone sends transfer message to Atletico Madrid star Jan Oblak

Recommended News

  • Trump drug price plan soothes industry

    Trump drug price plan soothes industry

    And they propose to appoint a "price gouging" czar with authority to fine drug companies for raising prices beyond certain limits. In his speech, Trump also mentioned ending "dishonest double-dealing" where PBMs don't pass on rebates meant for patients.
    Western Conference Showdown: Rockets vs. Warriors in 60 seconds

    Western Conference Showdown: Rockets vs. Warriors in 60 seconds

    Capela is on a tear in this postseason, and his offensive rim-running will test a Warriors squad that is thin up front. But when Playoff Paul was needed, he stepped up in a big way. "I don't have comfort being at home", he said.
    Australian breaks world record with Everest summit

    Australian breaks world record with Everest summit

    Xia had reached the Everest Base Camp in 2015, but was forced to return due to the earthquake-triggered avalanche. Xia Boyu, 69, a double amputee Chinese climber, scaled the Mount Everest in his fifth attempt Monday.
  • How to enable Google's new Smart Compose feature in Gmail

    How to enable Google's new Smart Compose feature in Gmail

    After tapping the Compose button a user will be able to see a new icon with a lock and clock in the compose window. The company didn't stop there as there were some big announcements at I/O 2018 , including Smart Compose .
    Gary Rowett says Derby lacked composure in play-off defeat to Fulham

    Gary Rowett says Derby lacked composure in play-off defeat to Fulham

    Tonight, we gave everything but it just wasn't quite enough. "Ultimately, our decision-making cost us tonight". He added: "I've been here before in different ways". "I am delighted to make Wembley".
    Iran oil sanctions could advance China's 'petro-yuan'

    Iran oil sanctions could advance China's 'petro-yuan'

    West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 42 cents at $71.56 a barrel. "There's not a lot of room for error". The EIA on Tuesday raised its forecast for US output in its monthly report to 12 million bpd late next year.
  • Did Korea progress strike final blow to Iran nuclear deal?

    Did Korea progress strike final blow to Iran nuclear deal?

    Iranian leaders have said they will begin enriching uranium again, in a move toward building nuclear weapons. Britain, France , Germany , Russia and China are still signed on to the deal.
    Three hostages come home: A new era in US-North Korea relations

    Three hostages come home: A new era in US-North Korea relations

    Trump and Kim in Singapore as an "historic" opportunity , but added a few notes of skepticism as well. Why has no former American president been able to schedule a summit with Kim Jong-un?
    Trump's Aides Celebrate Jerusalem Embassy as Violent Protests Rage at Border

    Trump's Aides Celebrate Jerusalem Embassy as Violent Protests Rage at Border

    Health officials said that most of the casualties can be attributed to live rounds which were fired into the crowd. The prime minister also praised Trump for his "courage" in moving the embassy.
  • Inflation rises in April

    Inflation rises in April

    ICRA Principal Economist Aditi Nayar said WPI inflation is expected to continue to rise over the remainder of this quarter. The index for primary articles grew 1.41 percent annually in April and prices of food articles went up by 0.87 percent.
    Centre submits draft scheme on Cauvery water sharing before Supreme Court

    Centre submits draft scheme on Cauvery water sharing before Supreme Court

    But the order was not obeyed, leading to Tamil Nadu government preferring a contempt petition against the Union government. The Centre has responsibility to implement the Supreme Court's verdict, " he added.
    Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stoeger not staying on

    Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stoeger not staying on

    Stoger only took over from the sacked Peter Bosz in December having himself been relieved of his duties at Cologne a week earlier. OGC Nice manager and former Borussia Moenchengladbach coach Lucien Favre is the favourite to succeed Stoeger.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.