NASA scheduled a major press conference Thursday that may announce the discovery of alien life on an ocean world in our solar system.
The press conference will unveil new data about “ocean worlds exploration — including NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission planned for launch in the 2020s — and the broader search for life beyond Earth.”
The press statement indicated it will almost certainly be about Jupiter’s moon Europa and could include Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Both of these moons are fairly similar and are two of the most likely places in our solar system to find alien life.
The Europa Clipper is a NASA robotic probe intended to launch a sometime in the early 2020s. The probe will investigate the icy moon’s potential for human colonization and alien life.
Europa and Enceladus probably have watery and salty oceans similar to those of Earth’s below the ice, likely kept warm by complex gravitational interactions and the planet’s core. Life could exist in the ice-covered ocean — perhaps in an environment similar to the deep-ocean hydrothermal vents where life on Earth may have emerged.
This isn’t the first time time NASA has called a mysterious press conference about Europa. The space agency put out an unusually cryptic press release last September claiming it found “surprising activity” on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which many in the media suspected may have been signs of life on the moon. NASA called a similar emergency press conference when they announced the discovery of flowing water on Mars last September.
NASA previously used the Hubble Space Telescope to find evidence for water ice plumes jetting off Europa, leading the agency to suspect the moon has an icy shell on top of an ocean of liquid water. NASA has also found evidence of clay-like minerals associated with organic matter on the icy crust of Europa.
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