Bill Nye Says We May Discover Life On Europa Within The Next 30 Years
Europa is rapidly becoming the object of superstar (read supermoon) of the scientific community. Hailed as one of the prime suspects for harboring alien life, Jupiter's Icy moon is the subject of every ambitious planetary scientist's affections....and Bill Nye is no exception.
In a new video from Big Think, Nye explains just why Europa is such an attractive prospect for those looking to discover signs of alien life in our solar system. Despite orbiting outside of our Sun's habitable zone , Europa is thought to have even more liquid water than Earth. Protected by a thick icy outer layer, this liquid water is made possible thanks to a strong gravitational pull from Jupiter, a pull which creates enough friction to warm the water to liquid levels.
Of course, the presence of liquid water does not guarantee the presence of alien life, but it sure as hell increases the chances of finding it. Liquid water is the most important factor for the survival of life as we know it. This fact, coupled with the fact that Europa's Icy crust acts as a barrier between this mass of liquid water and the harsh elements of space, means that Europa is an incredibly tantalizing prospect for exploration.
However, this exploration will come at a cost - around $2 billion to be precise. Nye believes that, in the grand scheme of things, $2 billion is a small price to pay for such a significant mission.
"But $2 billion spread over ten years is barely the cup of coffee per taxpayer once, says Nye. "And that pays for the whole mission over ten years. And my feeling is people buy a lot more than one cup of coffee every ten years." Better still, Nye believes that if the people in power start to shift their attention to Europa, the statements that we could discover alien life in the next 20 years become less optimistic and more realistic.
"So that's why somebody in authority, somebody with reasonable insight at NASA said we'll find life in the next 20 years. I would say the next 30, but 20 is great. Let's say if we could launch, we could get in the orbit of Jupiter and Europa by 2022, you'd get results back by 2025 and then things don't happen as fast as you think they would so add ten years. Yeah, so 20 years. Twenty years from 2014, that's possible."