Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Science | By

The Jupiter will kill any mission NASA’s search for life, scientists warn

The Jupiter will kill any mission NASA’s search for life, scientists warn

"For this process to take place on another planet, the ice must be sufficiently volatile to sublimate under surface conditions and diffusive processes that act to smooth the topography must operate more slowly", the study says.

This is because of the large seas of liquid underneath the surface However, the team of researchers have found a potential problem with landing a spacecraft on Europa, due to the tall, sharp ice.

There are examples of smaller ice shards which have formed from sublimation on Earth, but these are restricted to high-altitude tropical and sub-tropical regions like the Andes.

To date, the resolution of photographs taken of Europa's surface hasn't been fine enough to show the penitentes, so they remain hypothetical. According to the models, Europa's penitentes are capable of growing to around 15m tall, with a spacing of about 7.5m between each one.

In order to explore the always been attracting the attention of scholars the moons of Jupiter, NASA is preparing to launch a mission to Europa Lander.


In their study, the researchers used observational data to calculate the sublimation rates at various points on Europa's surface and thus used these to estimate the size and distribution of penitentes. It was also inferred that the penitentes would be more common around Europa's equator.

Now, all we can await is the 2-billion Europa Clipper mission, that is set to launch in the 2020s, which will see whether the icy moon can host life (for real).

If you're planning a trip to Jupiter's moon Europa, be prepared for a rough landing.

Hobley said: "The unique conditions of Europa present both exciting exploratory possibilities and potentially treacherous danger..."

"We hope studies like ours will help the engineers to develop innovative ways of delivering landers safely". When ice is exposed to the elements for long periods of time - specifically when it's bathed in sunlight but ambient temperature remains well below freezing - it tends to form valleys and peaks which become more pointed and "sharp" over time. Dr Moore is a co-investigator on Europa Clipper.

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