NASA boss sees "significant chance" of finding extraterrestrial life and relies on Jupiter's moon "Europa"
Created: 12/28/2022, 5:45 am
By: Astrid Theil
The Jupiter moon "Europa", covered by a kilometer-thick layer of ice, could harbor life, researchers believe.
(Archive image) © COVER Images via www.imago-images.de
Scientists have been searching for evidence of extraterrestrial life for decades.
A NASA expedition to Jupiter's moon "Europa" could now mean a breakthrough.
Washington DC - In 2024, a NASA mission is scheduled to start that could fundamentally change our understanding of life in the universe.
The "Europa Clipper" space probe is to explore Jupiter's moon "Europa" in more detail and clarify the question of whether life is possible far away from Earth.
Jupiter's moon "Europa" has long been considered a possible home for life in the solar system.
Measurements by the "Voyager" and "Galileo" space probes as well as model calculations indicate that there is a liquid saltwater ocean beneath an ice shell 20 to 30 kilometers thick.
Occasionally the water erupts in huge water vapor geysers, and researchers have also discovered water molecules on the surface of the moon.
The water beneath the moon's thick icy shell could be a home for extraterrestrial life.
NASA Director of Science: "Significant Chance of Finding Life Beyond Earth"
In an interview with Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), the Swiss-US American Director of Science at NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen, emphasized that the understanding of the universe will change significantly in the next 20 to 30 years - especially with regard to extraterrestrial life .
"I have the feeling that in the next 20, 30 years we have a significant chance of finding life outside of Earth," Zurbuchen told SRF.
The NASA mission to Jupiter's moon "Europa" could play a decisive role here.
In addition to the NASA space probe "Europa Clipper", the Jupiter moon "Europa" is also to be targeted as part of an ESA mission.
In 2023, the ESA space probe "JUICE" (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) is to be launched and, in addition to "Europa", will also visit the two Jupiter moons "Ganymede" and "Callisto".
NASA: Thomas Zurbuchen resigns as Director of Science
NASA boss Zurbuchen hopes that there will be an eruption of water vapor on Jupiter's moon "Europa" during the space probe mission.
In such a case, the measurement by the Europa Clipper space probe could fundamentally change the discussion as to whether there is life on Europa or not.
Thomas Zurbuchen served as Director of Science on NASA's Europa mission to Jupiter's moon and will step down from his post at the end of the year.
The astrophysicist has headed the civilian US Federal Space and Flight Science Agency since 2016.
Zurbuchen studied physics and mathematics at the University of Bern and then worked as a research assistant at the University of Michigan.
There he worked as a professor of space research and aerospace engineering before working for NASA.