If aliens exist, this moon is where we'll probably find them.

NASA is making plans to send a probe to Europa — one of Jupiter's more than 60 moons — and you wanna know why we should all be excited about this?

Image from NASA/JPL-Caltech.


There's a chance (probably a good one) they're gonna find aliens there.

He's not mad, he's just excited about so much science happening. GIF from "Star Wars: A New Hope."

Here's the thing — while Europa's surface might look like a big, dusty rock, it's actually ice. And below that ice might be a gigantic ocean.

Seriously, Europa's ocean is huge. Even though Earth is more than four times larger in diameter than Europa, it is estimated that Europa has more than twice as much ocean water.

Image from Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

That's important because liquid water and life are totally in love with each other. In fact, just about every place on Earth where we've found liquid water, we've found life.

Image from Bruno de Giutsi/Wikimedia Commons.

High in the atmosphere? Check. Buried under miles of rock? Is there water? Then there's life! There's even bacteria inside nuclear waste disposal dumps!

Life, uh, finds a way. Image from Michael Daly/Uniformed Services University/Wikimedia Commons.

So, if there is liquid water under Europa's icy surface, it is extremely likely that there are signs of life below.

Image from Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

OK, yes, we know, we know — if the entire moon is covered in ice, then how is that alien life getting energy? Doesn't it need sunlight?

Image from NASA/JPL-Caltech.

And that's very astute of you to wonder — but here's your answer: On Earth, deep-sea vents are capable of powering entire alien ecosystems.

Yes, Europa's icy surface probably means the oceans are completely dark, and yes, most food chains on Earth are based around the sun, but let us introduce you to our little friend: the hydrothermal vent.

Image from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On Earth, these vents exist deep under the ocean where sunlight never penetrates. Instead the life around them gets its energy from the superheated water and chemicals that erupt up from vents.

Europa is constantly being squeezed by Jupiter's gravity like an giant stress ball, which means it probably has an active, molten core just like Earth's.

An artist's impression of Europa's surface, with Jupiter visible in the background. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.

A molten core means vents, and vents may mean life. In fact, there's even a theory that suggests life on Earth first developed around similar vents on Earth!

To find out if there is life under Europa's icy surface, scientists are sending a probe into orbit around Jupiter that will also make close passes by Europa.

The surface of Europa. Image from NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute.

This will give the probe a chance to examine the moon, using tools like radar and spectrometers to learn more about its geology, it's stress-ball relationship with Jupiter, and what kinds of processes might be going on under the ice.

But that's not even the coolest thing about the probe — the coolest thing is the taste test the probe will conduct on one of its trips past Europa.

Images from the Hubble Telescope hint that giant plumes of water sometimes blast out of Europa's ocean like geysers, shooting some of its ocean water high into space.

Artist's depiction. Image from NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI/Wikimedia Commons.

The scientists are planning to add a bunch of robot tongues — essentially — to the front of their spacecraft and send it diving through the spray from these geysers to "taste" all that water and see what kinds of chemicals or possible lifeforms it can detect.

If there are aliens to be found, it's likely we'd find some trace of them on Europa. Meaning this mission could be the single biggest scientific discovery ever.

OK, so if they do find aliens, they're probably not going to look as pretty as Spock...

GIF from "Star Trek."

...or as be as suave as Chewie.


GIF from "Star Wars: A New Hope."

In fact, they'll probably look more like bacteria or algae. But alien algae would be totally cool too – because anything we find down there that's alive would totally revolutionize our concept of life in the universe. If life is so common that it could arise twice around a single star, then imagine what an entire galaxy's worth of planets and moons and stars could look like.

And even if they don't find any aliens, this mission is still worth celebrating because it's an awesome chance for us to explore our solar system and learn more about the universe we live in.

Watch NASA's animation about their mission to Europa below. And get excited! This could be the first step to finding aliens — real aliens — in our lifetime.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."