NASA Is Now Accepting Ideas For A Mission To Europa

Europa — a moon of Jupiter first discovered by Galileo — never ceases to surprise and amaze astronomers and amateurs alike. Last December astronomers announced water plumes erupting 100 miles high from the moon’s icy south pole. It was the best evidence yet that Europa, heated internally by the powerful tidal forces generated by Jupiter’s gravity, has a deep subsurface ocean. It caused the search for life in the outer solar system to take quite a turn.

Now, NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to science and engineering communities for ideas for a mission to the enigmatic moon. Any ideas need to address fundamental questions about the subsurface ocean and the search for life beyond Earth.

In my newly self-appointed role as inheritor to Galileo…

As the spiritual leader of the hyperreal religion practiced by the Posthuman Flight Club…

I say: No. No, no, no, no, no, NO!

I say: exercise some patience and restraint.

I say: take only readings.

I declare Europa a protected moon in the solar system’s ecology.

If there really is the highest chance of life there we should tread as gently as possible. Taking each step with maximum certainty.

And right now there is clear doubt that we can send something there that won’t be carrying microscopic life from our own biosphere. (

And whilst I can dig on panspermia, I’m not ready to be party to what amounts to ecological colonization just yet.

NASA Is Now Accepting Ideas For A Mission To Europa

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Enceladus seems to have liquid water under its icy surface. Cryovolcanoes at the south pole shoot large jets of water vapor, other volatiles and some solid particles (ice crystal, NaCl etc) into space (total approximately 200 kg per second).[14] Some of this water falls back onto the moon as “snow”, some of it adds to Saturn’s rings, and some of it reaches Saturn. The whole of Saturn’s E Ring is believed to have been made from these ice particles. Because of the apparent water at or near the surface, Enceladus may be one of the best places for humans to look for extraterrestrial life.

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Behold the Superhabitable World

Superhabitability describes a perfect storm of life-friendly factors. In their recent paper, astrobiologists René Heller and John Armstrong describe no fewer than 18 of them. First and foremost, superhabitability arises on terrestrial planets with masses two to three times that of Earth. Planets that size have a number of things working for them, including: Long […]

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