Is there life on Europa? 3) The surface of Europa has large-scale fractures and ridges similar to those that bound Earth's tectonic plates. moons, produces internal friction and heat within Europa. 2) The surface of Europa has bands, ridges, fractures and multi-ringed impact structures that suggest For the past several centuries, everyone believed that Mars was the most likely body in our solar system to support This suggests a large body of conductive material (salty water) at a depth of 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) or less. However, Sulfolobus shibatae could conceivably colonize the ocean that may lie under Europa’s ice. But Grady isn’t betting on the Red Planet as a home for very complex life. It shows very few impact structures but numerous ridges and fractures the surface through springs or vents. 9 Altmetric. that suggest a rigid crust moving over a mobile layer below. 1) Magnetometer surveys done by the Galileo spacecraft discovered an induced magnetic field near Europa's surface. (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Video: Europa - Cool Destination for Life, produced by NASA / JPL News. Download PDF. Is there life on Europa, a frigid icy moon of Jupiter? Artist's concept image by NASA / JPL. Glaciologist Hajo Eicken and his team were studying the survival strategies of microorganisms in Europa-like environments. I cover science and innovation and products and policies they create. Spacecraft observations determined that the surface of Europa is covered with water ice. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Observations of the snowball moon suggest that the water beneath the surface is both salty and perhaps heated by hydrothermal vents, producing a nice mix of conditions for life to thrive. life beyond Earth. The cool waters beneath the icy crust of Europa could host life. In the 2013 science fiction flick “Europa Report” a crew of space explorers in the future finds a bizarre, squid-like creature (spoiler alert!) And that means there's the possibility of ice remaining in the pores of the rocks, which could act as a source of water.”. Life in Europa's subsurface oceans could be supported in similar ways. This water would reveal the chemistry of the subsurface ocean and may contain microbes that live below. The elliptical orbit takes Europa alternatively closer to and One of Jupiter’s moons is thought to have conditions that are ‘ripe for life’. Investigators believe that the ocean is rich in dissolved ions, particularly magnesium, sodium, potassium, Scientists believe that Europa has the right conditions for some form of life to exist there today. "When it comes to the prospects of life beyond Earth, it's almost a racing certainty that there's life beneath the ice on Europa,” says Monica Grady, a … "If there is something on Mars, it's likely to be very small - bacteria,” she says. 4 Citations. All Rights Reserved, This is a BETA experience. Subsurface structure of Europa: This image shows the internal structure of Europa. This alternating increase and decrease of gravitational force on Europa results in the moon A Window into Europa's Ocean Right at the Surface, Europa Could Have the Ingredients Needed for Life. planet's interior. If these compounds reach the subsurface ocean, they can be valuable nutrients to start and sustain life. the presence of mobile material below. These Where there is water, there is life—and Europa’s got water alright: scientists believe it has twice the volume of Earth’s oceans swirling beneath its kilometers-thick ice crust. New research provides insights on what might be the best - and easiest - way to search. On Earth, life flourishes in the warm water around undersea vents. elongating and relaxing with each trip around the planet. A mission to the surface of the Europa might easily find evidence of life or even some of the microbes by It may be an even better candidate for finding life than Mars. I've covered science, technology, the environment and politics for outlets including CNET, PC World, BYTE, Wired, AOL and NPR. © 2020 Forbes Media LLC. Now, scientific attention is being focused on Europa, the fourth-largest of Jupiter's 67 confirmed moons. Organisms on Earth have been discovered in the subglacial lakes of Antarctica and in the hot ion-rich There could be hot water vents on the floor of the subsurface ocean that deliver energy and nutrients from the I began covering Silicon Valley for the now defunct Business 2.0 Magazine in 2000, but when the dot-com bubble burst, I found myself manning a public radio station in the Alaskan Bush for three years. One leading space scientist now says that we inevitably will have to shave the word “fiction” from how we classify this tale. It is also the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System. "I'm fairly certain we're all there is at our level of intelligence in this planetary system.”. Is there life on Europa? NASA gives three pieces of evidence that strongly support the presence of Europa's subsurface ocean. And of course, there’s plenty of talk about further investigating Mars, where we’ve already landed multiple rovers and could soon set down our first footprints. These include: free oxygen (O2), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), carbon dioxide Europa was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei and was named after Europa, the Phoenician mother of King Minos of Crete and lover of Zeus (the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter).