NASA discovery: Life may be found under the surface of Europa
One of the goals that space agencies all over the world have in terms of space exploration is being able to find life beyond our planet. A study by NASA scientists finds that one particular attribute of one of Jupiter’s moons may be the key to finding life elsewhere.
One of the other places where life is believed to be thriving outside of Earth is on one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. A study by NASA found more to the processes that make Europa appear to be glowing in the dark and may shed light on whether there is life on the icy moon. Europa is known to constantly get hit by amounts of radiation, which in turn, triggers various chemical reactions under its surface. Salty compounds like magnesium sulphate and sodium chloride produce a kind of glimmer when hit by radiation.
However, aside from the glow that Europa gives off, astronomers found something more to the glow. According to Bryana Henderson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of the research, “When we tried new ice compositions, the glow looked different. And we all just stared at it for a while then said, ‘This is new, right? This is definitely a different glow?’ So we pointed a spectrometer at it, and each type of ice had a different spectrum.”
By recreating the conditions to see what would be causing the glow, they believe this could indicate whether there may be life on Europa or not.
Meanwhile, NASA may be undergoing personnel changes soon as its administrator Jim Bridenstine has decided to step down from his post. His resignation also comes as Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden in the recent elections. Bridenstine was appointed by Trump in 2018 but has decided to resign once Biden is sworn in as the new president by January.
As to why he has decided to step down, Bridenstine said that Biden will want someone who shares his Democratic views as he is a Republican and served as a congressman before being appointed to head NASA. The outgoing NASA administrator explained that a good relationship between the agency and the administration is important for NASA to succeed.
“You have to have those relationships. Whoever the president is, they have to have somebody they know and trust and somebody the administration trusts. That person is not going to be me,” said Bridenstine.