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Validity of a Europa Mission

In: Science

Submitted By sdchang13
Words 322
Pages 2
Up until recently, it was believed that all of the hydrogen on Europa was locked up as solid ice under the moon’s surface. However, new images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope have raised many questions with astronomers. Ultraviolet images of Europa have led to the discovery of high levels of hydrogen and oxygen in two regions in Europa’s southern hemisphere. With computer modeling, researchers have suggested that Europa may be erupting with plumes of water more than 20 times the height of Mt. Everest.
Artist concept of the Europa Jupiter System Mission
Artist concept of the Europa Jupiter System Mission
Although its distance prevents any life from developing on the surface, the American Geophysical Union states that many scientists feel that a deep ocean lies beneath the icy-miles thick shell that covers Europa. It’s hypothesized that the moon is heated from within from the friction that is caused by Jupiter’s gravitational pull on Europa’s core. As a result, there is a possibility that the water there may have the right chemistry to sustain some very basic aquatic life. The recently discovered water vapors make searching for life much easier because instead of having to land there with heavy borer rigs loaded onto a large, expensive spacecraft to collect a water sample, a probe can now just fly into the vapor, suck some of it in and analyze it.
Honestly, I don’t feel like a mission to Europa is a great idea when we haven’t even made it to Mars yet. The mission is estimated to cost $4.7 billion and the evidence that there is any water on Europa is nothing more than a speculation at best at the moment. Also, a lot of NASA’s resources are currently being utilized in order to push for a man mission to Mars. The budget is simply nonexistent and especially not toward a mission that doesn’t have any kind of conclusive evidence.

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