From the “ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS—EXCEPT EUROPA ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE” department.
NASA to Hold Media Call on Evidence of Surprising Activity on Europa
NASA will host a teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 26, to present new findings from images captured by the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope of Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.
Astronomers will present results from a unique Europa observing campaign that resulted in surprising evidence of activity that may be related to the presence of a subsurface ocean on Europa. Participants in the teleconference will be:
- Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington
- William Sparks, astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore
- Britney Schmidt, assistant professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta
- Jennifer Wiseman, senior Hubble project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
To participate by phone, media must contact Dwayne Brown at 202-358-1726 or firstname.lastname@example.org and provide their media affiliation no later than noon Monday.
Audio of the teleconference will stream live on NASA’s website at:
For information about NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, visit:
“Astronomers will present results from a unique Europa observing campaign that resulted in surprising evidence of activity that may be related to the presence of a subsurface ocean on Europa,”
That gives a wide latitude, it could mean anything from discovering plate tectonics like we have on Earth, to discovering what looks like algal type blooms that discolor sections of the frozen ocean based on seasonal changes.
Astrobiologists have long regarded Europa as one of the solar system’s best bets to host alien life. So did Arthur C. Clarke in his followup story to 2001, A space Odyssey with 2010: Odyssey Two, which is where that famous “attempt no landing there” phrase comes from. Europa is a 1,900-mile-wide (3,100 kilometers) moon of Jupiter that apparently holds a huge ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell; furthermore, astronomers think this ocean is in contact with Europa’s rocky mantle, making possible all sorts of interesting chemical reactions that could create life, much like what we witness near deep sea hydrothermal vents in Earth’s oceans.
What is most interesting is that the scientists that run the JUNO probe don’t want to let it crash land there like has been done on so many other moons and planets. They don’t want to risk it contaminating the moon.
NASA did say this in response to some outlandish speculation:
We’ll be watching with great interest.