Whenever NASA announces an upcoming announcement, it normally sends Internet predictions up the wazoo. And this latest one is probably going to be no different, although it’s probably not aliens. Sorry.
On Monday, September 26, at 2pm EDT (7pm BST), NASA is going to reveal “surprising evidence” of activity on Jupiter’s moon Europa. In a short statement, NASA said this evidence “may be related to the presence of a subsurface ocean on Europa.” So, it’s going to be pretty exciting.
There won’t be any video of the announcement, but there will be audio streamed online that you can listen to here.
Of the people taking part in the announcement, one in particular stands out. That would be Britney Schmidt, an assistant professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. On her online bio, her research includes the detection of habitable systems, and the ocean dynamics of moons and planets, especially Europa.
Scientists have thought for a while that Europa has a subsurface ocean beneath its icy crust, with most estimates saying it contains more water than is on Earth. We’ve got indirect evidence that it exists, but we’re still not sure exactly how big or deep it is and nor, crucially, what is in it.
Some think it may be fed heat and energy by hydrothermal vents on the sea floor, for example. For this reason, many see it as a good bet for finding life elsewhere in the Solar System.
These latest findings come from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which has previously spotted evidence for plumes above Europa that were believed to originate in its ocean, but no repeat detection has been made. You could reasonably predict, therefore, that they've made a similar discovery again.
For now, that's all we know. So keep your eyes peeled next Monday. Europa is probably about to get a lot more enticing as a destination for future missions.