NASA scientists announced that they are planning to send a rover to the Jupiter’s moon Europa in search of life. The scientists give the mission an official name Europa Clipper. Their goal is to inspect habitability of Jupiter’s moon.
They named it clipper as clipper ships were fast trailing ships of the middle third of the 19th century. The ships were narrow-shaped but lengthy and could carry a limited amount of weight. These ships were streamlined, three-masted sailing vessels renowned for their grace and swiftness. These are rapidly shuttled tea and other goods back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean and around the world.
This rover will sail very fast and will complete revolution within two weeks. Scientists are planning to include 40 to 45 flybys in the mission which allow them to several high-resolution images and map the constituents and structure of the moon.
According to the scientists, the Jupiter’s icy moon may hold liquid water under its icy crust. The salty oceans on Europa are twice larger than on Earth. Researchers argue that the satellite has all the necessary ingredients to hold life even in microbial form.
Europa Clipper project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Robert Pappalardo said, “During each orbit, the spacecraft spends only a short time within the challenging radiation environment near Europa. It speeds past, gathers a huge amount of science data, and then sails on out of there.”
NASA planned to launch the mission in the 2020s. The lander is hoped to take off in the early 2020s and it will take six to seven years to reach the destination. After reaching the destination the next step will be to observe the surface. The rover will dig 10 centimetres into the surface, try to find the possibility of life and bring minimum 10 samples to the Earth for testing and record environmental factors suitable for the next lander because it won’t last longer on Europa for the extreme radiation coming from Jupiter which not only kills microbes of the moon but also damage the components of the lander if it stays for more than 20 days.
Europa receives very little sunlight and its ocean is in complete darkness because of the thick icy shell above it. If life exists on Europa then it would look like life in the deep depths of Earth’s oceans. If Europa Clipper finds the right condition then it’s possible the same condition exist on the other moons where oceans are believed to exist.