NASA has scheduled a major press conference where it plans to reveal a new discovery about ‘ocean worlds in our solar system.’
While we don’t know the specifics of what NASA will reveal the agency has confirmed that what has been discovered will “inform future ocean world exploration...and the broader search for life beyond Earth.”
The conference is scheduled for Thursday April 13 at 7PM UK time and will focus on new discoveries around ocean worlds within our own solar system.
According to NASA the results will utilise data from the now-doomed Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope.
The mention of Cassini hints that NASA’s announcement could be focused on one of Jupiter’s most interesting moon’s Europa or on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
Located some 500 million miles from the Sun, Europa is a 3,100km moon that contains a vast ocean buried some 100km beneath its surface.
Despite being hidden from view, scientists believe that Europa has the potential to contain more water than even Earth, making it a prime candidate for hosting alien life within our own solar system.
You see Europa’s oceans are sandwiched between its icy surface and rocky mantle deep underneath it the conditions are perfect for a whole swathe of chemical reactions to take place.
In 2016 NASA’s Hubble Telescope witnessed what could be vast water plumes erupting from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
The observation lends hope to the idea that NASA will be able to analyse Europa’s water for life without having to drill deep into the moon’s surface.
NASA’s so keen to explore this possibility that it has already confirmed an exploratory mission to Europa in 2030.
It would have three aims: looking for evidence of life, assessing the moon’s habitability and characterising its surface and subsurface for future reference.
It’s likely the lander would only last a few weeks before being frazzled by Jupiter’s radiation, but it’s hoped that would be enough time to relay data to help NASA decide whether to launch more extensive missions in the future.
Enceladus is also a strong contender for alien life thanks to its surprisingly similar composition.
The sixth-largest moon of Saturn, Enceladus also features a vast global subsurface ocean covered by a thick icy surface layer.
Vast plumes of water vapour escape through the ice and are then jetted out into space.
With all these factors considered there is some speculation that Thursday’s announcement could be that NASA has found some evidence that supports the theory Europa or Enceladus are capable of supporting life.