NASA is sending a mission to Europe. The probe will be delivered there by a Falcon Heavy rocket from SpaceX

The surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, is an icy crust that is up to 20 kilometers thick, but in some places it can be as thin as a few meters. Beneath it is an ocean filled with liquid water, where life may exist.

Data acquired from space probes can attest to this. Indeed, at the bottom of the ocean, in geothermal vents, there are ideal conditions for various forms of life to flourish. Perhaps completely alien to us. Life on Europa, if it exists there at all, must be under ice. The moon has no atmosphere and no strong magnetic field, which could effectively protect different forms of life from the deadly effects of strong cosmic and Jupiterian radiation.

The surface of the moon is fascinating in its appearance. It resembles a painting by a mad artist or an elaborate road network. In fact, the long lines are the result of various chemical reactions. There are numerous geysers that gush water from time to time. From a large angle, the surface of the object resembles the pins of a hedgehog. In some places they are as high as 15 meters and lie no more than 5 meters apart.

On our beautiful planet such pins are called penitents (snow dandelions). They are found, among others, in the highlands of South America, such as the Andes, where there are low temperatures and an extremely dry climate. When heated by the sun’s warm rays, the ice and snow covering the highlands sublimate quickly, resulting in sharp formations called penitents, which look like ice pinnacles.

The US Space Agency is planning to send a probe called Europa Clipper there in 2024. The device will be carried into space by a powerful Falcon Heavy rocket from SpaceX. The probe is expected to reach the vicinity of Europe in 2030. This will mark the beginning of a new era in the search for alien life in our Solar System. The new information, confirming Europa’s geological activity and the geysers found there, as well as the favorable conditions for life just a few centimeters below the surface, will now allow scientists to better prepare future missions.

The agencies are also developing a design for a nuclear-powered tunnelling probe. With fissile materials, not only will the device have a powerful and stable power source, but more importantly, it will be able to generate heat with which to drill into the ice crust, melt it, and eventually reach the subsurface ocean.

There, the probe will turn into a submarine, and a research group from NASA will thus be able to begin exploring the ocean and conducting needed experiments leading to the detection of signs of biological life. Scientists are confident that humanity will eventually discover alien life on other objects traversing the solar system in the 2030s.

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