STATES CHRONICLE – NASA has received a report on the science value of Europa rover bound to land on Jupiter’s moon. The space agency is currently encouraging the wider science community to start a debate about their discoveries. Back in early 2016, NASA’s Planetary Science Division enabled a pre-Phase A research to examine the engineering design and science value of a potential Europa rover mission.
NASA usually develops this type of studies known as Science Definition Team reports before they start a mission to reveal what challenges they may face, the science value of the project and feasibility of the mission. In June 2016, NASA initiated a team of 21 researchers for the SDT. Since then, this group of scientists is in charge of finding a worthy set of scientific objectives and all the needed measurements for the concept of the mission.
Thus, on February 7, the team of researchers filed a report to NASA. The document lists three primary scientific purposes which need to be accomplished during the mission. The first goal and probably the most important one is to search for proofs which might indicate the existence of life on Europa. The second goal is to evaluate Europa’s habitability by examining the samples from the surface of Jupiter’s moon. The third objective is to analyze the surface and subsurface to figure out whether it could support robotic exploration of the planet and its ocean.
The report received by NASA also presents a part regarding the notional tools which the crew needs to have to perform measurements and accomplish all the goals. Researchers are of the opinion that Europe offers evidence that its size is similar to the one of our moon. Underneath the ice crust, Jupiter’s moon hides a global saltwater ocean. Specialists have estimated that this ocean is at least twice as big as all the oceans on Earth.
Scientists have claimed that Europa represents one of the two celestial bodies which is believed to be in contact with a stony seafloor. The other planet is Saturn’s moon Enceladus. This kind of circumstances is what makes Europa one of the top priority targets in their sophisticated research, revealing life beyond our planet. The SDT was asked to develop a strategy prone to help them detect potential signs of life.
Image courtesy of: pixabay