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. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502120231.htm)
And whilst I can dig on panspermia, I’m not ready to be party to what amounts to ecological colonization just yet.
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