Tag Archives: Jupiter

NASA Is Seeking Help In Potentially Finding Life On Jupiter’s Moon Europa (Video)

NASA is confident that underneath Jupiter’s moon Europa there could be more water than in our oceans here on Earth. So naturally, Europa has attracted a lot of attention, encouraging the curious to ask, “Could there be life on Europa?”.

Currently, NASA is aiming to send a new mission to Europa by 2025. The White House’s 2015 federal budget allocates $15 million towards making this Europa mission a reality.

Europa has recently become one of NASA’s main focuses because,  out of all the other planetary bodies in our solar system, it has arguably the greatest chance of harboring life.

From Space.com…

“Every 10 years, the U.S. National Research Council, a nonprofit organization that advises the government, issues a report that recommends a planetary exploration strategy for NASA and the National Science Foundation. The current report (which covers 2013 to 2022) ranks an exploration of Europa among the highest priority missions. According to the report, the future mission should focus on taking a closer look at the ocean that scientists suspect lies below the surface; characterizing its icy crust and looking for any subsurface liquid water; determining the surface composition and chemistry; examining surface features and identifying landing areas for future missions; and understanding the purpose of its magnetosphere — the magnetic field surrounding the celestial body. NASA officials said the instrument proposals should focus on at least one of these exploration goals. The announcement calls for instruments designed for a spacecraft that will orbit Europa or complete several flybys, since astronomers do not yet have enough data to pinpoint safe landing sites on the icy moon.”

The video below describes Europa in more detail.

NASA hopes that by providing monetary incentives to private parties, they will encourage competition and innovation, leading to affordable development processes for the instruments necessary for new missions like the upcoming one to Europa.

Two of the main challenges for teams developing instruments are overcoming Jupiter’s high levels of radiation and making sure that no organic material from Earth (like microorganisms, for example) is introduced to Europa’s potentially habitable surface.

The competition ends in April 2015. NASA will select the top 20 proposals, rewarding $25 million to each of the selected teams to further advance their designs for their instruments. NASA will also select eight winners whose instruments will be developed and actually used in NASA’s mission to Europa.

This competition is included in NASA’s budget to get to Europa, according to Space.com…

“NASA is in the process of designing a mission that will cost less than $1 billion and will still meet as many of the exploration goals as possible.”

Check out NASA’s full guidelines for Europa mission science instrument ideas here.

You can also learn more about how Europa works in this infographic from Space.com (click to enlarge):

The BBC Might Get the Award for Best April Fool’s Day Prank Ever

On the morning of April 1, 1976, renowned English astronomer Patrick Moore got on the BBC radio station and made an astonishing announcement: Moore said that at exactly 9:47 a.m. that day, the planets of Jupiter and Pluto would align with the Earth.

Moore continued, saying that the combined gravitational pull of the two planets would cause a noticeable reduction in the strength of gravity on Earth. He called it the Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect.

A more recent picture of Patrick Moore

Sure enough, right after 9:47 a.m., the BBC was flooded with hundreds of calls from people claiming that they had personally experienced the phenomenon. One woman even said that she and her 11 friends were,

 “wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room.”

The BBC revealed the hoax soon afterwards. Read more about the prank here.

A Comet Collision on Jupiter’s Moon Europa May Have Delivered the Building Blocks for Life

NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter has revealed evidence of a “Spectacular Collision on the Surface of Europa”. Europa is one of over 60 moons that orbit Jupiter. This moon has attracted a lot of attention since New Evidence for Liquid Water on Europa has been discovered.

NASA spacecraft has revealed evidence a colossal impact on Jupiter’s moon Europa, a collision that may have delivered key minerals and perhaps even the raw ingredients for life, scientists say.”

According to Space.com

Many believe Europa may be one of the best places to look for extraterrestrial life in our solar system. Beneath its icy outer crust (up to sixty miles deep), the moon is thought to be hiding a saltwater ocean. Scientists have also suspected that Europa is home to many organic materials, the type of carbon-based materials that make up the building blocks of life like DNA and proteins.

Jim Shirley a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California said in a statement (Dec. 11)

Organic materials, which are important building blocks for life, are often found in comets and primitive asteroids. Finding the rocky residues of this comet crash on Europa’s surface may open up a new chapter in the story of the search for life on Europa.”

Shirley and colleagues made the discovery while looking at 15-year-old near-infrared images from NASA’s Galileo Spacecraft, which arrived at Jupiter in 1995 and circled the gas giant for about eight years. If this comet hit during the eight year span of time we were watching, I wonder if another comet may have hit before?

Check Out the below Pictures of Europa



Planet 11 Times the Size of Jupiter Discovered

A planet known as HD 106906 b has recently been discovered. The planet is 11 times the size of Jupiter and it circles its star at a distance that is 650 times the average distance between Earth and the sun. This planet is not only possibly the largest planet ever discovered, but it also breaks the record for most distance between itself and its parent star. Astronomers are amazed by the scale of this new discovery and new questions have risen. Researchers are wondering how worlds this large and with such a distant orbit can form at all. Space.com provides the full story

Mind-Blowing Photos from Most Distant Human Made Object in Universe (Voyager 1)

NASA’s Mission Overview for “Voyager- The Interstellar Mission”

The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Continuing on their more-than-35-year journey since their 1977 launches, they each are much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto. In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago. Scientists hope to learn more about this region when Voyager 2, in the “heliosheath” — the outermost later of the heliosphere where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar medium — also reaches interstellar space. Both spacecraft are still sending scientific information about their surroundings through the Deep Space Network, or DSN.

The primary mission was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn. After making a string of discoveries there — such as active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io and intricacies of Saturn’s rings — the mission was extended. Voyager 2 went on to explore Uranus and Neptune, and is still the only spacecraft to have visited those outer planets. The adventurers’ current mission, the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM), will explore the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain. And beyond.”


The Voyager 1 is currently moving roughly 39,000 miles per hour and the Voyager 2 is moving nearly as fast at 35,000 miles per hour. The two spacecraft are the two furthest objects in history to have traveled from Earth. If you visit this link to http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/ you can see NASA’s live count for how far the two spacecraft are from Earth. Last time I checked Voyager 1 was 19,001,247,837 KM from Earth.

Check Out this Video to hear sounds from space captured by the Voyager 1: