The Importance of My Job

Congratulations, you have been chosen as the  Astrobiology (BIO) team officer for this important mission. Your job is to research signs of life and determine if the PROBE discovers life upon impact. 

You will need to follow every step in these TASK CARDS, without skipping a single step. If you find at any point that the readings from the spacecraft are not safe, you must inform the crew! Do not begin the first step until told to do so by the Mission Commander.

You will be communicating with other teams using the CHAT at the bottom of the screen. Make sure you use the drop down menu to select the correct team you want to send the message to.  Once you have typed it in the CHAT, make sure to hit Enter so that the team receives it.


Follow the following directions for researching about astrobiology.  

 1. Read the text about Astrobiologists to learn about what they do. 


An astrobiologist is a scientist who studies the origin, evolution and future of life in the  universe. Most astrobiologists believe that Europa has abundant water and the right chemical elements, but an energy source has been difficult to confirm. On Earth, life forms have been found thriving near subterranean volcanoes, deep-sea vents and other extreme environments. The organisms that live in these extreme environments are known as “extremophiles.” The “extremophile” life forms on Earth give scientists clues about how life may be able to survive beneath Europa’s ice shell. 

Over the past century, the conditions under which life can thrive have expanded to include a broader range of temperature, pH, pressure, radiation, salinity, energy, and nutrient limitation. Microorganisms do not only thrive under such a broad spectrum of parameters on Earth, but can also survive the harsh conditions of space, an environment with extreme radiation, vacuum pressure, extremely variable temperature, and microgravity.



1. Research the text about Europa to learn about the oceans. 

Europa Ocean

Science fiction has always hypothesized about alien life.  What if life is thriving in an ocean beneath the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa? In 1979 the two Voyager spacecraft provided the first hints that Europa might contain liquid water. Then ground-based telescopes on Earth along with the Galileo spacecraft, space telescopes and the Europa Clipper spacecraft in the 2020s, increased scientists’ confidence that there is an Europan  ocean. 

Scientists think Europa’s ice shell is 15 to 25 kilometers deep. While Europa is only one-fourth the diameter of Earth, its ocean may contain twice as much water as all of Earth’s oceans combined. We have evidence that Europa’s ocean may be leaking into space. 

A spectrometer is used to analyze the vapors released into the atmosphere surrounding a planet or moon. To determine if the oceans beneath the surface could support life, a spectrometer should be used to analyze the atmosphere vapor. 


2. . Answer the questions in the EUROPA OCEAN  DATA LOG


3. Send the following message to “COM” in the CHAT.

This is Astrobiology. Please ask the Mission Commander to add a spectroscope to the probe parts.  It should be added to the Multiplexer side. 

4. Read the information on finding life by clicking on the box labeled FINDING LIFE

Our knowledge of life is based on what has been observed and measure on Earth. To date, the laws of chemistry and physics have universal principles defining conditions for life surviving outside of Earth. These suggest that life requires a liquid solvent, an energy source and building blocks. Other factors can influence the availability of nutrients and energy sources. These include temperature, pH, pressure, salinity and radiation.
Since building blocks (molecules) appear to be available, the availability of a solvent seems to be a key factor. Water is the key solvent on Earth but it is possible other solvents could sustain life elsewhere.
While radiation levels on Europa may be unsuitable to support life, the radiation is predicated to penetrate only about 1-20 cm below the surface so life could exist in the oceans of Europa. Our probe will bring back samples at a later date to be tested.

1. Open and complete the FINDING LIFE DATA LOG


2. Send the following message to “COM” in the CHAT:

This is Astrobiology. Notify the Mission Commander that the probe will be returning samples to the Gateway to determine if conditions are acceptable for life .