The humankind may be not alone in the universe, and the Earth may be not the only planet with complex organisms inhabiting it, the recent data provided by Hubble says. According to the recent shots taken by Hubble from Europa’s surface, the Jupiter’s moon emits jets of the substance that may possibly be water.
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However, unless the aforementioned substance is viewed closer, it will be technically impossible to define whether the substance in question is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, or whether hydrogen is mixed with other types of gas in the compound released from Europa’s surface.
The secrets of Europa are not new – since the Galileo mission, Jupiter’s mysterious moon has been turning the eyes of hundreds of scientists all over the world. However, the attempts that have been undertaken so far shave shown little progress.
Up until the famous shots of Europa’s geysers, the hypothesis regarding water stored under the satellite’s surface was hardly plausible. After a more detailed research, which the Clipper Project is going to be launched for, it will be possible to know for sure whether the geysers are the signs that Europa has undersurface water.
However, to provide the Clipper Project with better chances for success, it will be required to study the frequency and the pattern of Europa’s geyser activity. Insofar, it has only been stated that Europa’s surface emits gas that may possibly contain vapors of H2O; however, launching Clipper into the unknown hoping that the Atlas V will miraculously happen to land into the center of the jet-like eruption to collect the data regarding its components is absurd.
Therefore, it will be necessary to study the patterns of Europa’s geyser eruptions in order to forecast the ones that will take place once the Atlas V reaches the surface of Europa and, thus, plan the trajectory of Atlas V flight so that the launch system should pass one of the geysers when landing onto the surface of the planet.
Seeing how Europa’s geysers have been discovered because of the ultraviolet radiation emitted from the planet’s surface and then interpreted with the help of one of the numerous technologies implanted in Hubble, it will be reasonable to suggest that the telescope for studying Europa’s geysers should be ultraviolet. More to the point, it should be constructed as a space telescope.
Though Keck I and II have proven to be perfect in monitoring the satellite, they have a number of limitations, which will prevent from obtaining precise results. The project will cost $ 4,000,000 at the very least. The telescope for monitoring Europa’s geyser activity must have the following properties:
- Helium-cooling system;
- Aperture of 50 m (the largest one attainable at present (Dong and Han para. 1));
- Sensitivity: from mid-infrared to long-wavelength visible (Mignone and Barnes para. 2);
- 0.5 m2 detector illuminated at fl 1.25;
- 180° field of view (apparent);
- 0.2° field of view (true);
- Calculated magnification of 900;
- 56 mm focal field (Meade – Super Plossl);
- 10–20 ηm infrared radiation detection;
- 1.5 ton;
- Space mirror similar to the HST (Telescopes of the Future 5).
It can be assumed that the Clipper mission will be carried out successfully once the experiment in question is carried out and the necessary calculations are made. Once Clipper reaches one of Europa’s geysers, it will be possible to figure out whether the satellite has a habitable environment.
Dong, Bing and Jiaxin Han. Beam Patterns of the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope: Optimisation. 2013. Web.
Mignone, Claudia and Rebecca Barnes. More Than Meets the Eye: The Electromagnetic Spectrum. Web.
Telescopes of the Future 2001. Web.