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To search for life on Europe, we will first have to identify landslides and meteorites

To search for life on Europe, we will first have to identify landslides and meteorites

Europa, the little moon of JupiterOne of the most inviting celestial bodies in our solar system Searching for extraterrestrial lifeUnder its frozen crust, there is a vast ocean of liquid water (and it was Recently discovered the presence of sodium chlorideIt is also called “kitchen salt”. But there’s a catch: the radiation emitted by Jupiter is so intense that in the long run it likely removes any potential “biological signature”, any scientific trace or indication of life, past or present. However, researchers have investigated a possible solution by analyzing the phenomenon called gardening effect.

With the effect of gardening we mean Movement of the crust of celestial bodies without an atmosphere due to the influence of other celestial bodies, for example micrometeorites (certain meteorites of very small dimensions, ranging in size from 50 micrometers to 2 millimeters). In general, in celestial bodies that do not have an atmosphere, there is not even a phenomenon of erosion, but thanks to this foreign “dust” their surface moves, at least a little. According to recent studies, the outer centimeter of the lunar crust is completely inverted every 10 million years, to obtain a scale.

Back in our extraterrestrial life on Europa, the reasoning of the team of researchers led by Emily Costello at the Hawaiian Institute of Geophysics and Planetary is that we’ll have to dig behind this scramble on Earth to make meaningful research. Then the scientists made a synthetic model, also based on samples of the lunar surface taken during the Apollo missions, to understand how deep the frozen ground would be to drill. And the news is not very good: It will be necessary to be able to descend more than 30 cm To find materials from the ocean and uncontaminated by Jovian radiation. Previous studies only speculated by a few inches, which would have made things a lot easier.

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But there is good news: In some rare cases, it may be possible to find an analysable material much closer to the surface: It is the place where astronomical or geological events of a certain size have occurred recently, such as landslides or collisions with meteorites of a certain size. Thus, these are the areas that must be identified and in which the search for life forms must then focus.

Finally, juice (Jupiter Ice World Explorer) Add Europa clipper, sensorswho – which Based on NASA Expected to launch by the end of this decade, they already have an important mission. The two spacecraft will not land on the Moon: they will fly over it relatively close and collect images and other types of information.