NASA is on its mission to find evidences of life on Jupiter's moon, Europa. However, experts say, the search might get ruined before it even begins.
According to astrobiologists, Europa has twice more water than Earth. It is thought that beneath its thick ice surface is a form of liquid similar to our planet's water.
Experts said, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has spotted water-vapor plumes emitting from Europa's south polar region. And this is good news, they say. This could be a factor that means extraterrestrial life is possible on this moon.
Due to these findings, NASA is planning to send a lander on Europa by 2020. However, they say it may not be that simple.
Sending off the lander to Jupiter's moon may complicate the search for possible life. One factor is that the firing of thrusters to slow down the spacecraft's landing may result to nitrogen contamination on Europa.
Nitrogen has ammonia. Our body has ammonia in its every part, which means, it may make a mess of observations once it interacted with Europa's surface.
According to researchers, though Europa's surface is important, the best samples lie deeper. Thus, to collect samples from Jupiter's moon, digging may be the best solution.
"We have to go down, beneath the surface," said Britney Schmidt, a planetary scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology who has worked on NASA's Europa lander mission concept to Space
Schmidt thinks a mission needs to bore no less than 4 inches (10 centimeters) down, to a place where the thrusters haven't debased the ice and space radiation hasn't destroyed biogenic atoms.
"If we get 10 centimeters, or a meter [about 3 feet], down, this area hasn't been blasted with the thrusters," Schmidt told Space.com. "Maybe a portion, but the confidence for getting a pristine sample goes up the further you go down."
Experts assume that if ever they find evidence of life on this moon, most likely what they will find doesn't walk or swim.
"People want us to drill into Europa and find a fish," she said. "But right now, this is not realistic;− the hope is to land there and detect biogenic molecules, the molecules essential for life."