The Obama administration announced plans to scale down NASA’s proposed mission to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa to pay for more global warming research, according to Universe Today.
President Barack Obama requested NASA’s mission to Europa receive only $49.6 million in 2017, far less than the $175 million the mission got from Congress in 2016. Much of the money not spent on the probe would go to global warming research. A rival proposal from the House of Representatives would allocate $260 million to fully fund the mission for the next year.
“It’s unfortunate that a few tens of million dollars here or there can hamper our search for life beyond Earth. But the USA is a democracy, so that’s the way it is,” Evan Gough wrote in University Today Friday.”These discrepancies and possible disputes between NASA and the different levels of government may seem disconcerting, but that’s the way these things get done. At least we hope it is.”
NASA’s probe, dubbed The Europa Clipper, would investigate the icy moon’s potential habitability for human colonization and alien life. Europa probably has watery oceans similar to those of Earth’s below the ice, which are likely kept warm by complex gravitational interactions and the planet’s core.
Scientists generally agree that Europa is one of the most likely places in our solar system for alien life to develop. Life could exist in its under-ice ocean, perhaps in an environment similar to deep-ocean hydrothermal vents where life on Earth may have emerged. NASA has even found clay-like minerals associated with organic matter on Earth on the icy crust of Europa.