NASA’s budget for 2016 was announced on Monday, and within the 18.5 billion they received, is 30 million specifically for a robotic mission to Europa.
Europa has always been the hot spot for the possibility of life in our solar system, and now we may be able to catch a glimpse of anything living beneath the frozen oceans of the moon.
This started me thinking about what would happen if we really did discover life there. Life of any kind. How would it affect the psyche of the world, knowing that we are not alone? How would it affect religions and philosophies?
I tried to think about how it would affect me. Would I be changed, knowing that there was other life, completely alien from anything I knew before, that had sprung up spontaneously in the same way I, and every other living thing I’ve encountered, did?
I think it would make me feel awed, in the true sense of the word. I get a little tingling in my gut, thinking about it, a glimmer of how huge and old and completely unknowable the universe is. It feels strange, and a bit scary, but also comforting in a weird way.
Would such a discovery make the rest of the world feel this way? Or would they brush it off, joke about it, minimize it, or outright deny it? Or would it be met with a collective ‘huh, that’s interesting’ and be old, forgotten news in a few weeks?
I don’t know anymore. I feel like it should be momentous, it should be history making, the biggest event in modern science and something unforgettable and world shaking. But maybe these things aren’t important to most people. You cant interview a microbe or fish-like thing beneath ice on a moon four-hundred million miles away. Maybe it would only mean anything to scientists or sci fi fans.
I’d like to think not, though. I’d like to think that kind of news would draw humanity together in collective amazement, and joy at such a discovery. I’d like to think it would make us all better people.
But maybe I’m just an idealist.
Anyway, we’ll have to actually get to Europa first! Right now a launch date of 2022 is in the works. I’ll be watching excitedly as the mission is planned, implemented and executed over the coming years.