Author and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said in a video released Thursday that if humanity hopes to find other forms of life in this solar system, then our next exploratory missions should target not our interplanetary neighbors, but their moons.
Going to Venus, he said, would be a terrible idea.
“You would be crushed by the atmospheric pressure,” he said. “Nearly a hundred times that of Earth. Then you would rapidly vaporize from the 900 degrees Fahrenheit — four, five hundred degrees Celsius — temperatures.”
His favorite target for possible exploration, deGrasse Tyson said, is Jupiter’s moon Europa.
“It’s icy on the surface,” he explained, “but the stress from Jupiter’s gravity pumps energy into Europa, melting that ice so there’s an ocean of liquid water that’s been liquid for billions of years.”
“On Earth, any place we find liquid water,” he said, “we find life.”
Another possibility would be Saturn’s moon, Titan. Titan, too, is very cold, with all water frozen and rivers and lakes of liquid methane.
“Titan has an atmosphere,” de Grasse Tyson said. “A moon with an atmosphere.”
“Who’s to say,” he asked, “that there isn’t life based on liquid methane?”
Watch the video, embedded below via Business Insider: