Bill Nye can’t wait to learn more about Europa’s mysterious water geysers. Last year, the Hubble Space Telescope spotted plumes on one of Jupiter’s four largest moons, and the international space science community has since set its sights on an unmanned mission to investigate further. This excites Nye, who recently kicked off World Space Week at the University of Toronto with an enlightening presentation on Canada's important role in the global space community. The talk was organized by The Planetary Society (of which Nye is CEO), the world's largest non-profit organization promoting space education and exploration advocacy. While visiting Toronto for The International Astronautical Congress, The Society held an interactive live-taping of their popular radio and podcast series, Planetary Radio Live.
Nye was comical yet highly informative as he stressed the importance of space science innovation, exploration and mankind's search for extraterrestrial life. The proposed Europa mission fits the bill. If successful, the mission would collect samples from Europa's geyser plumes in space, cutting huge costs by not requiring landing capabilities. It is in those samples that scientists see the highest probability of finding extraterrestrial life. Nye says the cost of the endeavour— under $2 billion and 10 to 20 years of work—is a very small price to pay for the profound impact it would have on humanity.
The global space community is in consensus of the very high probability of life on Europa. Retrieving the scientific evidence, "would utterly change the world" says Nye. While the initial discovery would likely be one of microscopic organisms, it would be proof that Earth is not the only planet that harbours life. If any life can be found in our own solar system, it may not be as rare an occurrence in the cosmos as once thought. It is this type of initiation that the Planetary Society seeks to advocate for, which has lead to the northern expansion of the Society's presence.
The Science Guy continued by sharing an appreciation for Canada's stellar track record of involvement with international space endeavours, stating. "Canada has been involved in almost every international space initiative." Further discussed, the Canadian government's commendable support of the Canadian Space Agency and Canadian space science community.
Mat Kaplan, Planetary Radio Live host, joined Mr. Nye on stage to conduct a star-studded panel of space experts to further explore Canada's contribution to space science and exploration in the past, present and future. Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen tackled the misconception that an astronaut's work takes place solely in space, chronicling the many projects and educational pursuits he and the Canadian Space Agency have been involved with here on Earth. Canadian science journalist Elizabeth Howell, and Dr. Gordon Osinski, Associate Director of the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration at the University of Western Ontario, shared their insights on the many projects and innovations that members of the Canadian space science community continue to create and contribute to.
The message of the evening was loud and clear: space education, exploration and discovery expands our minds and can change our world--and Canada plays an important part in making that happen.
Watch the full Planetary Radio Live webcast below: