NASA is just about to turning its vision of search for life on Europa into reality. Outlining an initial set of objectives for a proposed mission NASA has released a report.
According the report, the objective behind the proposed mission to the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon is to search for the evidence of life.
Europa has been remain a primary target in the search for extraterrestrial life since the mid-1990s. It is the time when Galileo orbiter indicated that a huge saltwater ocean may exist beneath its icy crust. They also believes that ocean is in the contact with a rocky, silicate seafloor that is a necessary source of elements and energy needed to give rise to and sustain life.
Moreover, scientists wants to analysis the samples from Europa’s surface to assess its habitability and characterizing its surface to help support future robotic exploration there.
“This mission would significantly advance our understanding of Europa as an ocean world, even in the absence of any definitive signs of life,” the report says.
The team also recommended a number of life-detecting instruments, such as a mass spectrometer to sift through particles from Europa’s surface, a microscope to search for microbial cells and a vibrational spectrometer to analyze the molecular composition of samples.
Finally, it has to characterize the properties of its surface and subsurface materials for future explorations. It’ll be a long time before this lander takes off, though — it was designed to follow the Europa Multiple Flyby Mission that’s scheduled to launch in the 2020s. If it does push through, it’ll be the first mission since the 1970s’ Martian Viking program that will “conduct… in situ search for evidence of life on another world.”