NASA has the world of science in a tizzy as it has announced the discovery of new information suggesting that there are conditions supporting alien life. NASA will soon present photographs taken on one of the largest of Jupiter’s 67 known moons, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA now has what it calls “surprising evidence” of what could be a subsurface ocean on Europa. Europa was already considered one of the interplanetary bodies that had the best chance of sustaining some kind of life. This is an artist’s rendition of what it could look like.
#8 “Not Aliens”
NASA immediately pushed back upon the internet memes, tweeting that “Monday, we’ll announce new findings from Jupiter’s moon Europa. Spoiler alert: NOT aliens.”
#7 Water Vapor
However, NASA itself had stoked some of the rumors by announcing in late 2013 that the Hubble Telescope had captured water vapor erupting from Europa. NASA called the finding “tremendously exciting.”
#6 The Icy Crust
Other experts also said the findings were very promising, since previously NASA had assumed that there was an ocean under the icy crust of Europa. In order to prove that there was an ocean or any life, experts had previously believed that someone would have to actually drill through the ice. Instead, it appears confirmation of flowing water has already happened through Hubble.
Jupiter has long fascinated astronomers. “It’s the biggest and baddest planet in the solar system and it’s got the biggest and baddest radiation and the biggest and baddest magnetic field,” said Steve Levin, project scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
#4 Methane on Mars
2016 has been quite a year for NASA’s exploration of other planets. In March, NASA confirmed that the Curiosity Rover had recorded “burps” of methane, which could be produced by bacteria. Most methane on Earth is produced as a waste gas by living organisms.
#3 Methane Venting
The Curiosity Rover was exploring Mars’ Gale Crater, a 96-mile wide depression caused by an asteroid strike, when it made the discovery. Although prior observations have detected unusual plumes of methane on Mars, the venting that comes and goes was thought to be of a different character.
#2 Alien Life by 2025
Last year NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan declared that humans were on the verge of discovering life away from Earth. “I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.”
#1 Habitable Planets
Once astronomers thought there were no habitable planets. However, the current view is that there are many planets and moons that could have the capacity for life. Both Europa and another Jupiter moon, known as, Ganymede, are thought to have icy oceans. Saturn’s satellite body Enceladus may also have under-ice oceans. In the ancient past, Mars was covered in oceans, and the dark streaks on Mars could actually be caused by salty water, says NASA.