In just a few days, a £1.4bn probe called the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) will be launched into space for an eight-year mission to search for signs of life on other worlds within our solar system.
Unlike other missions that have targeted planets like Mars, Juice will venture into deep space to study the icy moons orbiting Jupiter, opening a new chapter in the search for extraterrestrial life, the Guardian is reporting.
Juice will take advantage of an unexpected characteristic of our solar system: the largest reserves of water are located on planets orbiting far from Earth, such as those circling Jupiter and Saturn.
As the first mission to focus solely on exploring these remote worlds, Juice is poised to make groundbreaking discoveries.
“We would like to see whether there are places around Jupiter where life could have started. We need to find a place with internal energy and liquid water,” said Olivier Witasse, the mission’s project scientist, as reported by the Guardian. “With the icy moons of Jupiter, we have good reasons to believe that there is more water than on Earth.”
Decades ago, it was believed that Venus and Mars offered the best potential for discovering extraterrestrial life.
However, this idea was challenged by data gathered by robot spacecraft, which revealed that Venus had an extremely high surface temperature of 475C, while Mars lost its atmosphere and surface water billions of years ago.
Despite attempts to locate subsurface water sources, these efforts have yet to yield any success. As a result, the search for alien life has shifted to ice-covered moons in deep space, a concept that would have been considered ridiculous just a few decades ago.
Written by staff