Jupiter Moon to Be Searched for Life
By Steve Mirsky on March 10, 2017



“And this mission would be NASA’s first mission that is directly tasked with(直接被賦予…任務) searching for signs of life(生命跡象) on another world since the Viking Spacecraft were given that task back in the 1970s on the surface of Mars.” Kevin Hand of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory(噴射推進實驗室). “We talk about finding, searching for signs of life on some of these ocean worlds, and in particular these geologically active ocean worlds with rocky seafloors like Europa(木衛二).”

Hand spoke February 17th at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston. He’s the deputy (代理、副手) project scientist for the Europa mission, which plans to send a lander(太空登陸器) to the ice-covered moon of Jupiter.

“We’re talking about environments where life could be alive today…so these ice shells may serve as a window into the oceans below and oceanic material may be coming up to the surface. Where a mission like a lander could actually sample that material directly…and I’m the pre-project scientist for this mission. This is a mission that would reach the launch pad(發射台) in the 2024–2025 time frame(時間範圍), it would land on Europa’s surface and operate for about 20-plus days(二十多天).”

The instrumentation(整體控制儀器) that gets sent to Europa needs to be recognized(辨識出) signs of life in minute(微小的) amounts. “A picomole(皮莫爾,10的負12次方莫爾,1莫爾相當於和12克碳原子數相等物質重量) of organics(有機物) per gram of sample is one key requirement. Being able to detect cell number abundances(大量) to as low of a level as 100 cells per milliliter(毫升) of ice acquired from Europa’s surface. We reached that benchmark(基準點) by comparison to subglacial(冰川下的) Lake Vostok(南極沃斯托克冰下湖) here on Earth. And the size that the microscope in the model payload(有效負載、負荷量、最大能力) would need to be able to characterize(歸納… 特性) is down to a 0.2 micron(微米、百萬分之一米) diameter(直徑) for any putative(假定存在的) organisms(有機物) collected in a surface sample of Europa. This mission is a bold(大膽), very exciting mission that marks NASA’s return to the direct search for life via in situ(原本的) capabilities on a potentially inhabited(有人居住的) ocean world beyond Earth.”


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