Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




JOVIAN DREAMS
If We Landed on Europa, What Would We Want to Know?
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (SPX) Aug 09, 2013


This artist's concept shows a simulated view from the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Europa's potentially rough, icy surface, tinged with reddish areas that scientists hope to learn more about, can be seen in the foreground. The giant planet Jupiter looms over the horizon. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Most of what scientists know of Jupiter's moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life.

But what if we got to land on Europa's surface and conduct something along the lines of a more in-depth interview? What would scientists ask? A new study in the journal Astrobiology authored by a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out their consensus on the most important questions to address.

"If one day humans send a robotic lander to the surface of Europa, we need to know what to look for and what tools it should carry," said Robert Pappalardo, the study's lead author, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

"There is still a lot of preparation that is needed before we could land on Europa, but studies like these will help us focus on the technologies required to get us there, and on the data needed to help us scout out possible landing locations. Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life today, and a landed mission would be the best way to search for signs of life."

The paper was authored by scientists from a number of other NASA centers and universities, including the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Texas, Austin; and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The team found the most important questions clustered around composition: what makes up the reddish "freckles" and reddish cracks that stain the icy surface? What kind of chemistry is occurring there? Are there organic molecules, which are among the building blocks of life?

Additional priorities involved improving our images of Europa - getting a look around at features on a human scale to provide context for the compositional measurements. Also among the top priorities were questions related to geological activity and the presence of liquid water: how active is the surface? How much rumbling is there from the periodic gravitational squeezes from its planetary host, the giant planet Jupiter? What do these detections tell us about the characteristics of liquid water below the icy surface?

"Landing on the surface of Europa would be a key step in the astrobiological investigation of that world," said Chris McKay, a senior editor of the journal Astrobiology, who is based at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

"This paper outlines the science that could be done on such a lander. The hope would be that surface materials, possibly near the linear crack features, include biomarkers carried up from the ocean."

This work was conducted with Europa study funds from NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

.


Related Links
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jupiter and its Moons
Explore The Ring World of Saturn and her moons
The million outer planets of a star called Sol
News Flash at Mercury






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





JOVIAN DREAMS
Where are the Best Windows Into Europa's Interior?
Pasadena CA (JPL) Apr 15, 2013
The surface of Jupiter's moon Europa exposes material churned up from inside the moon and also material resulting from matter and energy coming from above. If you want to learn about the deep saltwater ocean beneath this unusual world's icy shell - as many people do who are interested in possible extraterrestrial life - you might target your investigation of the surface somewhere that has more ... read more


JOVIAN DREAMS
NASA Selects Launch Services Contract for OSIRIS-REx Mission

Environmental Controls Move Beyond Earth

Bad night's sleep? The moon could be to blame

Moon Base and Beyond

JOVIAN DREAMS
Opportunity Reaches Base of 'Solander Point'

NASA launches new Russian-language Mars website

Big ice may explain Mars' double-layer craters

Full Curiosity Traverse Passes One-Mile Mark

JOVIAN DREAMS
Space to become tourist destination in the future

HI-SEAS Mission Now in its Final Days

College of Law launches doctorate in space law

Study: Teleportation would have a slight time-to-transmit problem

JOVIAN DREAMS
China launches three experimental satellites

Medical quarantine over for Shenzhou-10 astronauts

China's astronauts ready for longer missions

Chinese probe reaches record height in space travel

JOVIAN DREAMS
Japanese Cargo Craft Captured, Berthed to ISS

Japanese Cargo Spacecraft Docks with ISS

NASA's Firestation on way to ISS

Weekly recap from the International Space Station expedition lead scientist

JOVIAN DREAMS
EUTELSAT spacecraft ready for integration to Ariane 5

Next Ariane 5 is readied to receive its dual-satellite payload

Russia to restart Proton rocket launches after crash

Japanese rocket takes supplies, robot to space station

JOVIAN DREAMS
Astronomers Image Lowest-mass Exoplanet Around a Sun-like Star

New Explorer Mission Chooses the 'Just-Right' Orbit

'Blinking' stellar system may yield clues to planet formation

Pulsating star sheds light on exoplanet

JOVIAN DREAMS
New 'weird' material may be new class of solids, researchers say

Large Area Picosecond Photodetectors push timing envelope

Seeing depth through a single lens

Altering organic molecules' interaction with light




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement