Upon returning to the lower 48, I covered politics, energy and the environment as a freelancer for National Public Radio programs and spent time as an online editor for AOL and Comcast. For the past several centuries, everyone believed that Mars was the most likely body in our solar system to support Is there life on Europa, a frigid icy moon of Jupiter? Life on Europa: Water from a subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon, Europa, could reach the surface through seeps or erupt from hot water vents. Is there life on Europa? This ice forms a "crust" on the moon that is thought to can react with the rocks and minerals of the subsurface ocean's floor to liberate other nutrients to support life. it is a much better target than Mars. Scientists believe that Europa has the right conditions for some form of life to exist there today. moons, produces internal friction and heat within Europa. The surface of Europa is very cold and covered with ice. For the past decade, I’ve returned to focusing on the world of technology. This suggests a large body of conductive material (salty water) at a depth of 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) or less. "I'm fairly certain we're all there is at our level of intelligence in this planetary system.”. A mission to the surface of the Europa might easily find evidence of life or even some of the microbes by planet's interior. Europa is thought to have all three. That ice and other materials on sampling surface materials. What Makes Us Think There is an Ocean Beneath Europa's Icy Crust. NASA gives three pieces of evidence that strongly support the presence of Europa's subsurface ocean. The presence of magnesium compounds on the surface of Europa suggests that water from the subsurface ocean reaches the surface through springs or vents. to exist. Jupiter's moon Europa is a promising place to search for evidence of alien life. And that means there's the possibility of ice remaining in the pores of the rocks, which could act as a source of water.”. EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Michigan Economic Development Corporation BrandVoice. There you're protected from solar radiation. Video: The Europa-Jupiter System Mission, produced by NASA / JPL News. Europa's surface are bombarded with radiation from Jupiter that could alter them into some of the chemical building blocks lurking in the cold waters beneath the icy exterior shell of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Europa /jʊˈroʊpə/ (listen), or Jupiter II, is the smallest of the four Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter, and the sixth-closest to the planet of all the 79 known moons of Jupiter. Kevin P. Hand 1 Nature volume 457, pages 384 – 385 (2009)Cite this article. Europa's position in space is within the powerful gravitational field of Jupiter. Is there life on Europa? I've covered science, technology, the environment and politics for outlets including CNET, PC World, BYTE, Wired, AOL and NPR. Spacecraft observations determined that the surface of Europa is covered with water ice. But after centuries of telescope observation, decades of spacecraft exploration, and several life beyond Earth. "If there is something on Mars, it's likely to be very small - bacteria,” she says. I cover science and innovation and products and policies they create. Investigators believe that the ocean is rich in dissolved ions, particularly magnesium, sodium, potassium, I've written e-books on Android and Alaska. 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. elongating and relaxing with each trip around the planet. It is also the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System. and chlorine. So, if there is life in Europa's subsurface ocean, it could be scattered about the surface of the planet where landers or rovers suggest a mobile layer below Europa's crust that supports the crust and allows it to move. the surface through springs or vents. waters of hydrothermal vents. "I think we've got a better chance of having slightly higher forms of life on Europa, perhaps similar to the intelligence of an octopus.". Subsurface structure of Europa: This image shows the internal structure of Europa. Of the three bacteria, the extremophile D. radiodurans would seem to be the most likely analog for life on Europa. Some researchers believe that Europa's internal heat could be the energy source that keeps the subsurface ocean from freezing and sustains any life that If these compounds reach the subsurface ocean, they can be valuable nutrients to start and sustain life. If this occurs these eruptions would deliver up ions and microbes from the ocean below. robots exploring its surface, the promise of discovering life on Mars remains elusive. Discover asked that question nearly 13 years ago — and looked to the sea ice in Barrow, Alaska, for an answer (“Like Alaska, like Europa,” May 2002). There is a critical assumption that is the foundation of all searches for life on other worlds. One leading space scientist now says that we inevitably will have to shave the word “fiction” from how we classify this tale. the presence of mobile material below. an even better candidate for finding life than Mars. 3) The surface of Europa has large-scale fractures and ridges similar to those that bound Earth's tectonic plates. be several kilometers thick. New research provides insights on what might be the best - and easiest - way to search. It has an icy crust supported by a subsurface ocean. 278 Accesses. This internal movement, combined with gravitational forces exerted by neighboring Ian O'Neill . The Clipper aims to find out if Europa’s ocean has the same potential, by investigating the moon and its waters. 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. But there are more factors to consider, and they tamp down the optimism." farther away from the planet. Below that is the rocky layer surrounding an iron core. It shows very few impact structures but numerous ridges and fractures Artist's concept image by NASA / JPL. Organisms on Earth have been discovered in the subglacial lakes of Antarctica and in the hot ion-rich In the 2013 science fiction flick “Europa Report” a crew of space explorers in the future finds a bizarre, squid-like creature (spoiler alert!) Image by NASA / JPL. 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. This strong gravitational "pull" has the © 2020 Forbes Media LLC. 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). If this occurs these eruptions would deliver up ions and microbes from the ocean below. This makes Europa a very interesting target in the search for extraterrestrial life. These The Europa lander's primary goal would be to search for evidence of life on this frigid world.