Monday, September 28, 2009

Is Jupiter's Bizarre Moon Our Best Hope for Finding Extraterrestrial Life?

Lede- The crackling radiation would kill you in 10 minutes—that is, if you did not first asphyxiate in the nearly nonexistent atmosphere, die of exposure to the –300 degree Fahrenheit temperature, or plunge into a thousand-foot-deep icy crevice. Jupiter’s moon Europa is a forbidding world, yet NASA intends to devote billions of dollars over the next decade to getting there. At the center of this effort will be the most complicated orbital explorer ever built, each of its components carefully armored against the deadly stream of particles in Jupiter’s massive wake. The orbiter will require six years to reach its destination. Then, when it arrives at Europa, engineers will consider the mission successful if it survives for just three months of exploration before shorting out.

I chose this lede because I am a fan of all things space. However, even if I wasn't intrigued by our solar system, I still would have chose this lede because the first line of the lede immediately jumped out at me and caught my attention, "The crackling radiation would kill you in 10 minutes," as a reader I wanted to know if I was in danger of being killed by crackling radiation. The lede then proceeds to tell of other ways one can be killed by the natural elements of another planet. I felt as if the lede was both eye-catching yet very informative, the writer manages to provide the reader with interesting facts all while pulling them deeper in to the article.

The article as a whole was satisfying. I never knew that there were frozen oceans of one of Jupiters many moons, or any where in our solar system for that matter. I immediately thought of the phrase, "where there's water there's life," which is basically the topic of the article, can there be life of Europa simple because there is water?

The writer also talks about an "orbital explorer" that will be built to tour the icy moon. I assume it's similar to "Rover Spirit," which captured images of Mars while roaming the planet. The mission is tentatively titled, "Europa Jupiter System Mission," so catchy. Like most NASA missions, Europa Jupiter System Mission, is a long time coming as it is slated to take place around 2026. I should be alive around that time.

Another interesting fact that the writer points out is that, "The 9,000-pound NASA probe will bristle with a dozen specialized instruments designed to see, smell, and explore Europa from a choice vantage point 60 miles away." I can understand seeing the moon and taking pictures of it but I couldn't imagine that a probe would be able to smell a planet.

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