NASA is planning a mission to Europa, one of the best candidates for alien life

Great news from NASA today – Deskarati –

The US space agency has just announced that it’s allocating funds to a mission to explore Jupiter’s water-laden moon, Europa. During a live stream earlier today, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden outlined the space agency’s healthy US$18.5 billion budget for the 2016 financial year – half a billion dollars more than expected.

But what was really exciting about the announcement was that Bolden also explained that US$100 million of that would go towards planning for a mission to Europa – Jupiter’s fourth largest moon.

The long-awaited news was met with plenty of applause on Twitter, and for good reason – Europa is one of the Solar System’s prime candidates for harbouring extraterrestrial life. And yet, up until now, we’ve paid relatively little attention to the moon.

As one of Jupiter’s 63 known satellites, Europa is only a little bit smaller than our own Moon, with a diameter of 3,120 km. But what makes it really compelling to astrobiologists is that, beneath its icy surface lies a huge, liquid ocean, completely covering its rocky core. Via Yes! NASA is planning a mission to Europa, one of the best candidates for alien life – ScienceAlert.

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