Thanks to a surface covered in liquid water, Jupiter's moon Europa serves as the prime suspect for bodies in our solar system harboring extraterrestrial life. For the most part though, speculation has assumed the life on Europa would be microscopic, similar to the chemical and rock-eating microbes found atop undersea volcanic vents on Earth. However, a new study estimates the level of oxygen in Europa's seas may be high enough to support fish-sized life. Hello, alien sushi.
At this month's meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona professor of planetary science Richard Greenberg presented his new model for Europa's ocean. In this model, the sea contains enough oxygen for three tons of fish-sized creatures. And while that number seems fairly low on a planet where a single boat could haul a multi-ton catch, it's worth noting that Europa is over 100 times smaller than Earth.
Greenberg believes that tides in Europa's ocean, caused by the gravitational pull of Jupiter, have steadily increased the levels of oxygen in the water. This gradual theory contrasts with an older theory which assumed the oxygen levels in Europa's oceans stayed fairly constant. A steady increase in oxygen is better for the evolution of life, and indeed Earth itself saw a slow build up of oxygen during the early days of life.
Timothy Shank, a deep-sea molecular ecologist, told NatGeo he'd "be shocked" to learn that Europa did not harbor life.
Even if probes manage to confirm Greenberg's theory, we still won't be able to deduce the size of Europa's denizens, or even if the moon hosts any life at all. For that, we would need to actually penetrate the ice and look around the moon's briny deep. Well, that, or we could just equip a surface rover with a fishing pole. What kind of bait do you use to catch aliens, anyways?
[via National Geographic]
Great info. I cant wait to hear more about this in the future! And good question. What would we use to catch those fishies?
Bait? Just use Hotdogs. Everyone loves Hotdogs. lol But seriously this article is amazing. Knowing that a satellite in our system has the potential of producing or even having life on and below the surface. WOW! Well lets find out and prove that life is out there no matter if its just Carp.
Well IF there fish are then they must be radiation proof because Jupiter makes radiation and it hits Europa a lot so its very unlikely so we need robots to go there but we haven,t gotten to mars yet.
I think that this is really cool. but, i read that there is a layer of ice 50-100 miles thick covering the planet. how would they get to the water below it? is it possible to send a giant boring machine to this moon.
P.S. How long would it take to send something over there? at its least, the distance between Europa and ourselves is a little less than 600 million km (almost 373 million miles).
oh and, solar panels just wont cut it out there....u cant have a one-shat battery to penetrate the ice....years, decades would go by. NUCLEAR POWER shall conquer anything...also, over those years, if a part breaks, we need some good repair bots
Just give us time, we'll find a way to commoditize that water, too!
Can you tell me how in the world life would have gotten to Europa or evolved there? The existence of water and enough oxygen are only two requirements within a multitude of others for the exitence of life.
We'll never know in our life time.