NASA put out an unusually cryptic press release Wednesday claiming it found “surprising activity” on Jupiter’s moon Europa — a moon frequently associated with signs of alien life.
NASA says the discovery came from images captured by the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope and relates to a potential ocean under the ice of Europa. The space agency will further discuss the “surprising activity” next Monday. If NASA confirms the existence of such an ocean, the odds of alien life on Europa skyrocket.
NASA called a similar emergency press conference when they announced the discovery of flowing water on Mars last September.
Scientists generally agree Europa is one of the most likely places in our solar system where alien life could develop. Life could exist in its ice-covered ocean — perhaps in an environment similar to deep-ocean hydrothermal vents where life on Earth may have emerged.
NASA has even found clay-like minerals associated with organic matter on Earth on the icy crust of Europa.
NASA is already constructing a probe to Jupiter’s Moon, dubbed The Europa Clipper, which would investigate the icy moon’s potential habitability for human colonization and alien life. Europa probably has watery oceans similar to those of Earth’s below the ice, which are likely kept warm by complex gravitational interactions and the planet’s core.
President Barack Obama requested NASA’s mission to Europa receive only $49.6 million in 2017, far less than the $175 million the mission got from Congress in 2016. Much of the money not spent on the probe would go to global warming research. A rival proposal from the House of Representatives would allocate $260 million to fully fund the mission for the next year.
Recent research and discoveries indicate that alien life probably does exist elsewhere in the universe. Scientists not involved with the discovery previously estimated that the odds of humanity being the only civilization in the universe are less than one chance in about “10 billion trillion,” and that there have been roughly 10 billion alien civilizations in the history of the universe.
Using a simplified version of the famous Drake Equation, the scientists concluded that the number of advanced alien civilizations in the universe is equal to the number of habitable planets multiplied by the likelihood of a technological species developing on one of these planets.
Scientists found possible evidence of an extraterrestrial civilization last October, when astronomers with Yale University and other top schools published a study that used NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to examine the star KIC 8462852. What astronomers found astounded them: The star had light patterns that were consistent with large orbiting masses that blocked out some of the star’s light.
“We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real. We just weren’t able to,” Ben Montet, a Caltech astronomer who co-authored the study, told Gizmodo. “None of the considered phenomena can alone explain the observations.”
Another hotspot in the search for extraterrestrial life is the nearby exoplanet “Proxima b,” which orbits the closest star to Earth other than the sun. NASA officials and scientists previously speculated to The Daily Caller News Foundation that Proxima b could potentially host microbial or plant life.
However, astronomers have a history of accidentally attributing unknown natural phenomona to aliens. In 1967, a graduate student in astronomy found a pulsing radio signal so predictable it seemed to be a sign of intelligent life. The astronomers even nicknamed the signal LGM-1, for “little green men.” They believed they had detected a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, but it turned out to be the first pulsar.
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