Tag Archives: Mankind

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):

Just In: This Morning An Asteroid About The Size Of A City Bus Buzzes By Earth Closer Than The Moon

An asteroid about the size of a city bus buzzed by Earth earlier today (May 3, 2014). The asteroid came closer to the Earth than the moon, but fortunately did no damage.

Asteroids flying by Earth is not totally uncommon, in fact it actually happens quite a bit. The combination of the distance from Earth and the size of the asteroid are what made this asteroid such a potential threat.

According to NASA’s Asteroid Watch project based at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif…

“The asteroid is about 25 feet (7.6 meters) wide… It made its closest approach to Earth at 4:13 a.m. EDT”

It is hard to tell exactly what the damage would have been from a collision with an asteroid about this size. Here at The Higher Learning we have covered many posts that are asteroid related, from posts about asteroid mining to posts about the threat of asteroid collisions to earth.

Fortunately in this case no collision took place, so no damage was done. According to Space.com

“The newly discovered asteroid 2014 HL129 came within 186,000 miles (299,338 kilometers) of Earth when it made its closest approach on Saturday morning, which is close enough to pass between the planet and the orbit of the moon. The average distance between the Earth and moon is about 238,855 miles (384,400 km).”

The asteroid has been named Asteroid 2014 HL129 and was discovered by scientists only days before its close encounter to Earth. According to Space.com

“Saturday’s close shave by asteroid 2014 HL129 came just days after its discovery on Wednesday, April 28, by astronomers with the Mt. Lemmon Survey team, according to an alert by the Minor Planet Center, an arm of the International Astronomical Union that chronicles asteroid discoveries. The Mt. Lemmon Survey team scans the night sky with a telescope at the Steward Observatory atop Mt. Lemmon in Arizona’s Catalina Mountains.”

You can view a video animation of the asteroids orbit around the sun to see just how close asteroid 2014 HL129 came to colliding with Earth here. 

NASA scientists and researchers around the world are constantly monitoring the skies for potentially dangerous or threatening asteroids. Space agencies around the world are united with the common goal of locating these threatening asteroids and providing solutions to protect Earth and mankind from dangerous collisions.

Check Out the full story from Space.com here. 


Rosetta Spacecraft Awakes From Hibernation and Prepares for Mankind’s FIRST EVER COMET LANDING (Video)

Rosetta is a spacecraft that was launched in 2004 by the European Space Agency with aid from NASA. Rosetta’s mission is to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, orbit the comet, and launch and land a robot lander called Philae onto the comet. If the launch and landing for robot lander Philae are successful, Philae will be the first ever controlled landing on a comet.

Rosetta has been in hibernation since November and has recently been awoken successfully (turned back on) and is now expected to rendezvous with its nearby target — Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — in May, and then enter orbit around the icy body (Comet) in August. Check Out the video below to see the journey that Rosetta has experienced through our Solar System so far.


If all goes well, Rosetta will release a piggyback probe — Philae — in November. Philae will study comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko up close with its 10 science instruments, one of which is a drill that will snag samples up to 8 inches beneath the comet’s surface.

Below is a video animation of the expected upcoming Philae landing.


The studies will be the first of their kind considering we have never landed on a comet before. This mission has high expectations and will hopefully bring in priceless information about comets, the origin of our solar system, and possibly more of the origin of life.

Rosetta is named for the Rosetta Stone, a block of black basalt that was inscribed with a royal decree in three languages — Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian Demotic and Greek. The spacecraft’s robotic lander is called Philae, named after a similarly inscribed obelisk found on an island in the Nile River. Both the stone and the obelisk were key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Scientists hope the mission will provide a key to many questions about the origins of the solar system and, perhaps, life on Earth.” -According to Space.com

Check Out the full story here on Space.com