Alien life has been in NASA’s mind since the beginning of the agency’s history and NASA searches ideas constantly to enhance the quality of its missions. Earth’s moon is one of the most studies celestial bodies in the solar system. The next most studied body is Mars, which is right now populated and surrounded by robots analyzing the chemical and physical characteristics of Earth’s sister planet. We expect manned missions to Mars to be started in the next decade. Out of the eight planets and 427 known natural satellites from the solar system, Mars is considered to be among the most suitable planets to sustain life. So far, even if intense research has been undertaken, Mars did not provide the scientific wonder we are all expecting, alien forms of life.
Europe, the sixth closest moon of Jupiter, is the next one. Because of the very low temperatures, Europe is covered with thick icy crust. Based on hitherto investigation, Europe is thought to contain an underground liquid ocean.
Depending on the planets orbital movements, the distance between Earth and Jupiter is somewhere around 600 and 900 million kilometers. In comparison, Mars is at 50 to 100 million kilometers from Earth.
NASA searches ideas for new research instruments to be used in Europe’ exploration
NASA launched on Friday an Announcement of Opportunity regarding the future exploration of Jupiter’s natural satellite. Only a couple of missions orbited or passed close to Europe and NASA plan to prepare a future landing. Launched in 1989, Galileo was the only mission to recurrently visit the satellite. Right now, NASA is interested to develop concepts of instruments to be used in another exploratory mission.
Shortly, “This solicitation will select instruments which may provide a big leap in our search to answer the question: are we alone in the universe?”, according to John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The agency will select 20 proposals in April 2015. The deadline for submitting instrument proposals in October 17, 2014.
NASA states clearly six science objective to be achieved with the help of the new instruments. To identify a potential landing site, the agency needs to know more about the surface and its relation to the interior. If the surface and interior content of Europe communicate, drilling instruments need to be adjusted to the environment. Europe’s magnetosphere is highly relevant for a future landing and NASA wants to know more about it as well. Right now NASA searches ideas because at the suggestion of National Resource Council tries to reduce costs as much as possible.