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NASA reveals new plans to search for alien life

NASA, the United States space agency, is studying new methods to search for alien life beyond Earth.

The recently raised hypothesis that has gained traction among North American researchers was born from a workshop convened by NASA’s Office of Scientific Technology for Planetary Exploration (Pesto) and held at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

The idea is to use a cryobot to drill through dense layers of ice on two moons — one on Jupiter and the other on Saturn — and explore the oceans that must exist underneath.

“Overall, the consensus conclusion from workshop participants was that this mission concept remains viable, scientifically compelling, and the most plausible near-term way to directly search for life on an oceanic world,” NASA said.

“The potential for direct detection of life on another world seems more possible than ever.”

What is a cryobot?

Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, are covered by a thick layer of ice and NASA believes that beneath it there is more liquid water than in all of Earth’s oceans combined.

To drill into this absurdly cold crust, North American scientists rely on a cryobot, which is a cylindrical probe that uses heat to melt the ice beneath it. Meltwater flows around the equipment before freezing when it falls behind it.

This technique is already used on Earth to explore glaciers and ice sheets. The main question is: is it possible to use a cryobot to drill through much colder and thicker layers of ice on the moons Europa and Enceladus?

How to drill through this layer of ice?

At the workshop held at Caltech, scientists looked into this question and explored possibilities to make this hypothesis viable.

According to NASA, it will be necessary to develop a nuclear system that can make the cryobot melt the ice efficiently.

There is also a concern in making the equipment withstand the strong pressures of the oceans of these moons and in building a thermal management system that deals well with the high temperatures generated and distributes the heat in the correct way.

The cryobot must also need a combination of water jets and mechanical cuts to pierce layers of salt and dust that may be in the probe’s path. When the obstacle is impenetrable, it will have to rely on a mapping sensor and a steering mechanism to circumvent it.

Finally, NASA also believes that a strong communication system capable of transmitting data despite the external conditions that the cryobot will face will be necessary. There are doubts whether a fiber optic cable, currently used in terrestrial cryobots, would survive the ice layers and the movements of the probe on the moons Europa and Enceladus.

NASA investigates UFOs

During a statement in September, NASA presented a report commissioned to raise possibilities on how the agency can contribute scientifically to the analysis of UFOs (unidentified flying objects), now called “unidentified aerial phenomena”.

NASA director Bill Nelson, during a statement made this Thursday morning, reported that the study showed that the agency can use data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to investigate UFOs and make all information public to combat the sensationalism surrounding the issue.

“[Encomendamos esse relatório] with a few goals in mind: understand how NASA can study UFOs from a scientific perspective, shift the conversation from sensationalism to science, and make sure that information about what we find or recommend is shared transparently around the world,” said Nelson.

He also announced the creation of a UFO research directorate, which will be tasked with developing and coordinating NASA’s vision for UFO research.

See also: NASA appoints director to clarify UFO mystery

Source: CNN Brasil

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