Aliens on Jupiter? NASA scientists plan nuclear-powered 'tunnelbot' to search them on planet's moon

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 20 December 2018, 01:14 PM
Europa, the fourth largest of Jupiter's 53 moons, is one of the prime candidates in our solar system for holding alien life (Photo: Twitter@Rainmaker1973)
Europa, the fourth largest of Jupiter's 53 moons, is one of the prime candidates in our solar system for holding alien life (Photo: Twitter@Rainmaker1973)

NASA scientists have proposed a plan for a nuclear-powered robot drill that would dig in a Jupiter moon in an attempt to find aliens. Scientists have named the plan "tunnelbot" and researchers see this as an opportunity to delve deep beneath the distant world of Jupiter's moon Europa. Some researchers suspect that there are aliens hiding beneath its surface. Andrew Dombard, along with his spouse and associate professor in Earth and environmental sciences, D'Arcy Meyer-Dombard, designed the tunnelbot to sample ice through the shell, as well as the water in the ocean below. Europa, the fourth largest of Jupiter's 53 moons, is one of the prime candidates in our solar system for holding alien life. 

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Researchers believe that its icy crust hides a liquid water ocean and the vents through that crust might deliver the necessary heat and chemical ingredients for life into the ocean. “Once it reaches the liquid ocean, to keep from "falling through," it would deploy cables or a floatation device to lock itself in place,” the researchers wrote.

Designed by engineers at the University of IL at Chicago, the "tunnelbot" is a nuclear-powered machine capable of piercing and diving into the thick, ice shell of Jupiter's moon Europa, where water is in contact with a rocky core, according to reports.

The probe developed by Dombard and his colleagues would be able to tunnel through Europa's ice - which has a thickness ranging from 1.2 to 18.6 miles - and carry instruments created to test the subsurface ocean for evidence of microbial life. Getting through this thick ice to take samples of the ocean has been a major tactical problem for scientists.

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“Estimates of the thickness of the ice shell range between 1.2 and 18.6 miles, and is a major barrier any lander will have to overcome in order to access areas we think have a chance of holding biosignatures representative of life on Europa,” said Andrew Dombard of the University of IL at Chicago.

The bot would also evaluate the habitability of the ice shelf itself. The researchers haven't actually designed the payload for sampling Europa's water and ice, or figured out how to get the tunnelbot onto the moon, the South Soccer reported.

First Published: Thursday, December 20, 2018 01:04 PM
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