The search for alien life continues, and most recently, NASA has realized it may need to turn to an unexpected source to even learn how to hunt for the elusive ET. Rather than look to the stars, a team of NASA researchers will be taking their expedition 3,000’ below the surface of the Pacific Ocean to better understand how alien life could form and survive in our solar system.
The expedition, called SUBSEA, will travel deep below the Hawaii’s Big Island to explore the Lo’ihi volcano. NASA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to use a seafaring research vessel to explore Lo’ihi. Submerged volcanoes are known to be teeming with microbial life and NASA hopes to use what it finds to determine how life is able to thrive and exist in lightless, harsh environments.
Lo’ihi sits active 50 miles off the coast of the Big Island, a region that’s most recently made headlines as the Kilauea eruption released lava over populated residential areas. The mission to explore the underwater volcano is expected to launch in August.
SUBSEA will collect rocks and bacteria from Lo’ihi, which the team will use to determine the best plan of attack to explore the “water worlds” of our solar system, such as Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa. Both moons are thought to contain heat-emitting vents and vast oceans beneath their icy surfaces that could match the same conditions as found by Lo’ihi.
RT NASA "More than 3,000ft beneath the ocean surface off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, we & our partners are blending ocean & space exploration with a project called SUBSEA. What we learn could help design future science-focused missions across t… pic.twitter.com/VfrSAmaKSQ"— Spacegirl Sally (@spacegirl_sally) May 31, 2018
Why Lo’ihi was targeted has to do with its deep sea vents, which differ from others found across Earth, and its location in United States territory. According to Darlene Lim a NASA geobiologist and head of the SUBSEA expedition, the vents found at Hawaii’s underwater volcano are not as hot as vents found in the Atlantic. Typically, vents emit a “black smoke” that can reach over 700 degrees Fahrenheit whereas the vents expected to be found on the two moons would fall closer to 120 to 400 degrees.
That NASA would turn to the ocean to better understand alien lifeforms isn’t really that far fetched of an idea. Have you seen some of the creatures that live in the deep, dark depths of our world’s oceans? Let’s just say - it isn’t a cuddlefest. There are a lot of teeth and squirmy things.
H/T: Mashable, Twitter