Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes. The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice. “Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.” Read more
The world’s largest telescope will be completed this week in China and it has scientists very, very excited. With a whopping 1,640 feet (500 meter) wide dish the size of 30 football fields, the telescope will able to detect radio signals — and potentially signs of life — from distant planets.
For many people, the most exciting goal is the search for extraterrestrial life. The recent discovery of three life-friendly planets outside our solar system has rekindled discussion of whether intelligent life is unique to Earth. FAST’s sensitivity will be capable of detecting exoplanets like these in ways that other telescopes cannot. “FAST’s potential to discover an alien civilization will be five to 10 (times) that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets,” Peng Bo, director of the NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory, told Xinhua. Read more