HOPE FOR LIFE ON EUROPA

Wired is running an article detailing the 5 planets/moons in our solar system most likely to harbour alien life forms. That doesn’t mean they’re predicting ET’s home planet (we know where that is!) but they are saying which planetoids are most likely to contain things like microbes or even plankton like creatures.

Personally I have always believed that the most likely place to find life in our galaxy is Europa. I don’t think we’re going to find anything on Mars that equates to more than a few dry old fossils. Whether they’ll be fossils of large creatures or fossils of very small organisms is anyones guess. I just don’t think there’s anything there anymore – that it is truly a dead planet.

I do think there is a very strong possibility of life locked beneath the ice of Europa however. It has long been thought that Europa hides an ocean beneath an icy crust, though we still await confirmation as to just how thick the ice is. When we know that, we can send a probe or a manned mission to drill down through the ice and try to access the ocean beneath.

How would life exist in a freezing cold ocean that lies below a crust of ice? Well, we do know that the pull of Jupiter’s gravity is constantly flexing Europa as it orbits, meaning that vital heat is generated in the movement of the crust. Jupiter is also suspected of creating tidal energy on Europa.

From the wiki for Europa:

In late 2008, it was suggested Jupiter may keep Europa’s oceans warm by generating large planetary tidal waves on the moon because of its small but non-zero obliquity. This previously unconsidered kind of tidal force generates so-called Rossby waves that travel quite slowly, at just a few kilometers per day, but can generate significant kinetic energy.

Europa could also have volcanic activity providing heat, energy and nutrients to the water. In our own oceans we have found visual evidence of life thriving around thermal vents, at depths we thought life would never exist at.

It has also been theorised that the ice covering Europa could act as an oxidizer to the ocean beneath. The fact of the matter is, these hostile environments are only hostile until you begin to consider the multitude of ways in which life could find a stronghold on them. The prospect of them being liveable habitats is unbelievable until conventional thinking is side-stepped to consider much more remote possibilities. It is a truly alien idea to us humans that life could exist without air, and with sunlight… and yet as we have seen in our ocean… this does happen. Life happens in these environs.

Life will always finds a way to overcome obstacles and survive, and if we think beyond the boundaries of our own planet, and the limitations of our world, then life could take any form and survive… and even thrive in conditions we would consider toxic and hostile.

There are arguments for all of the worlds listed in the Wired piece, and they’re all fair arguments. My bet is on Europa though. And if there is life there, you can also bet that it will be far more alien and unreal to us than anything we could have imagined.

You can read the article at Wired HERE

And you can read the wiki for Europa, HERE

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3 thoughts on “HOPE FOR LIFE ON EUROPA

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention HOPE FOR LIFE ON EUROPA « FRINGE SCIENTIST -- Topsy.com

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