Amaan M. – BASIS Scottsdale

BASIS Scottsdale Senior Amaan M.

Europa: The Potential for Life on Jupiter's Icy Moon

Project/blog link: Europa: The Potential for Life on Jupiter's Icy Moon
BASIS Advisor: Lyndsay Haag
Internship location: University of Arizona (online)
Onsite Mentor: Shane Byrne, Professor

Project Abstract

In 1971, NASA’s Voyager II mission successfully completed its analysis of Jupiter’s moons. The mission collected raw data and thousands of images that allowed researchers to discover more about the planet’s moons. One of these moons, Europa, drew tremendous interest from the scientific community, as all evidence showed that the moon had a liquid ocean right beneath its frigid, icy shell exterior. The presence of liquid water, a carbon-dioxide atmosphere, and biotic deposits from asteroid impacts prompted new discussion of the possibility of life on the moon, with NASA saying that Europa was the most likely planetary body to contain life in our solar system. Given the high scientific interest in potential life on Europa, NASA has revealed plans for the Clipper mission, a rover set to explore Europa’s surface. Before sending Clipper, research must be done to determine the most likely regions on Europa’s surface that could support life. Thus, the focus of this research is to determine regions near the proposed landing site that hold the most promising combination of signs of life through imaging data that convey temperature, which indicates the presence of liquid water; altitudes, which demonstrate the stability of the atmosphere; and precise coordinate locations of craters, which illustrate the biotic deposits from asteroid impacts. By determining these locations, the Clipper mission-- set to launch in 2022-- will be more successful in its mission for discovering signs of past or present life in our solar system.

Europa: The Potential for Life on Jupiter's Icy Moon