Humans have long been warned about Europa, from HAL 9000’s infamous “ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE” in 2010: Odyssey Two to the more recent indie film Europa Report, where a group of scientists do land on the icy moon, only meet a grisly fate at the hands of a decidedly unwelcoming resident. None of that, however, deterred Giraffestronaut or Captain Chips from plunging into Europa’s seas in the final instalment of the Epic Space Adventure children’s book trilogy.
And really, who can blame these explorers for wanting to see what lies beneath Europa’s icy crust? NASA thinks the moon harbours a liquid water ocean and considers it one of the most promising spots to find alien life in the solar system.
That’s why Andrew Rader, the SpaceX engineer behind the Epic Space Adventure trilogy, chose it as the setting for Europa Excursion, which follows the adventures of the same space-faring giraffe who took a tour across the solar system and landed on Mars in the series’ earlier instalments.
“The reason we picked Europa is we believe it’s the best candidate for life in the solar system,” Rader told Gizmodo, adding that if there’s life on Europa, that boosts the chance of life being abundant across the galaxy.
The beautifully-illustrated picture book aims to get these concepts across to a young audience, while offering a scientifically-grounded vision of what a future submarine mission to Europa might look like.
To be fair, it does also make a nod to the dangers of Europa missions — the book opens with Giraffestronaut receiving a distress call from Captain Chips and his crew, who’ve become trapped under the ice and are in need of rescue. (Thankfully, the rescue seems to go off without any bloodthirsty space octopus encounters.)
It’s the perfect gift for a future space explorer, and if you want to pick it up for Christmas there’s still time. The Kickstarter backed-project runs through tonight, and a pledge of $US43 ($59.71) or more gets you the entire trilogy, plus a sticker pack that includes illustrations of the ship and crew and an extremely choice selection of the solar system’s most enticing destinations.
I’m about ready to ship off to Europa myself, space octopuses be damned!