UI professors conducting ocean research…in space!

The largest of Jupiter’s moons, Ganymede, has a greater diameter than the planet Mercury.  -- photo by Jamie Ball via Flickr Creative Commons
The largest of Jupiter’s moons, Ganymede, has a greater diameter than the planet Mercury. — photo by Jamie Ball via Flickr Creative Commons

Technology developed at the University of Iowa will make a 365 million mile voyage in the early 2020s, according to RFGlobalNet. The mission? A search for possible life-sustaining environments on Europa, one of Jupiter’s 63 known moons.

Europa has a smooth ice crust and an atmosphere primarily composed of oxygen, giving NASA scientists reason to believe there may be an ocean beneath the surface as well as the potential for extraterrestrial life. NASA’s Europa mission is expected to launch within the decade, with Dr. Don Kirchner’s radar transmitter attached to the space probes. Kirchner is a UI research engineer and the leader of the project, named REASON (Radar for Europa Assessment and Sounding: Ocean to Near-Surface).

UI research physicist Dr. William Kurth will aid Kirchner and NASA on the project, IowaNow reports. Their radar will be directly responsible for reading and testing for evidence of habitable conditions beneath the moon’s surface.

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