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Jupiter’s moons give better chances in finding life than Mars
2013-05-29 0:00

By Eko Armunanto | DigitalJournal

A new mission called JUICE may give better chances in finding life elsewhere in the Solar System as actual living organisms, compared to the desiccated and irradiated remnants of long dead microbes that scientists hope to find on the Red Planet

The closest findings to what space scientists termed Alien Civilization have been reported last week telling about the discovery of another water-weathered rock in Mars, an insinuation that the Red Planet could have supported life in its ancient past. Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon in the powder drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month. "A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," said Michael Meyer, NASA’s lead scientist for Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."

A new mission called JUICE, by European Space Agency (ESA), may however give better chances in finding life elsewhere in the Solar System, as actual living organisms – not the desiccated and irradiated remnants of long dead microbes that scientists hope to find on the Red Planet. JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer), aimed at launching in 2022, will spend at least three years studying Jupiter’s moons for signs of life. It will be launched from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. JUICE is the first large-class mission chosen as part of ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program.

What’s in Jupiter’s moons that attract scientists in their space explorations? Jupiter has amazingly dozens of moons and enormous magnetic field “to form a kind of miniature solar system,” as NASA puts it. Jupiter’s four largest moons are named Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – each of them is a distinctive world. Those four moons were discovered by Galileo, so then called The Galilean Satellites. More than just “have water”, Jupiter’s moon Europa is thought to have water twice as much as does Earth. This moon intrigues astrobiologists because of its potential for having a habitable zone. Its interior is hot which keeps the water comparatively warm and pulsing like rivers on Earth, or even waving like ocean.

“If that doesn’t sound like a place that could cook up life, nothing does”, says Michael D. Lemonick on TIME. He said the only ingredients missing to make Europa’s ocean a potential home to living things have been salt and organic compounds – but now, according to a study about to be published in The Astronomical Journal, they’re not missing anymore. A dip in the waters of Europa, the paper concludes, could be very much like a dip in our oceans, perhaps with all the biology that implies.


Read the full article at: digitaljournal.com

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