Recently I reported on a proposal that spacecraft should return to Jupiter’s moon Europa to determine if it really has an ocean under its icy shell. Another group of scientists are lobbying for a return to Europa as well, as they feel it’s one of the most likely places to find other life in the Solar System.
A group of scientists recently met at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco to discuss their interest in Europa. By studying life in the Arctic and Antarctica, the scientists have uncovered life living in some of the most extreme and inhospitable places on Earth. In fact, they’ve found that life really thrives in and under the ice.
On Europa, the gravitational interaction with Jupiter creates cracks in the icy surface of the moon, where water wells up and then freezes into lakes. Future spacecraft should search these regions for life. Organisms could also be down at the bottom of the moon’s oceans, huddled around thermal vents, like we see here on Earth.
If space agencies started planning now, the scientists hope there could be a lander on the surface of Europa within 15 years.
Original Source: Berkeley News Release