Alien life may be lurking in hidden Earth-like ocean on nearby Jupiter moon, Nasa admits
NASA scientists have admitted that Jupiter’s moon Europa could potentially support life.
The team created a new model to show the moon is likely to have subsurface oceans under its icy surface and we can’t yet rule out its ability to host alien species.
These findings were presented at the 2020 Goldschmidt Conference but are yet to be peer reviewed.
Previous research detected plumes of water vapour coming from Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
The new study was based on working out where this water could have come from.
Nasa planetary scientists Mohit Melwani Daswani said: “Europa is one of our best chances of finding life in our Solar System.
Future research is hoping to focus on water vapour plumes[/caption]
“NASA’s Europa Clipper mission will launch in the next few years, and so our work aims to prepare for the mission, which will investigate Europa’s habitability.
“Our models lead us to think that the oceans in other moons, such as Europa’s neighbour Ganymede, and Saturn’s moon Titan, may also have formed by similar processes.
“We still need to understand several points though, such as how fluids migrate through Europa’s rocky interior.”
Nasa is planning to launch a mission to Europa in 2024 and will search for signs of life.
Europa isn’t the only moon thought to have a water underneath its icy exterior [/caption]
Previous research has also found that Europa is quite salty, leading scientists to hope it has oceans similar to those we have on Earth.
Melwani Daswani said: “Indeed it was thought that this ocean could still be rather sulphuric, but our simulations, coupled with data from the Hubble Space Telescope, showing chloride on Europa’s surface, suggest that the water most likely became chloride rich.
“In other words, its composition became more like oceans on Earth.
“We believe that this ocean could be quite habitable for life.”
We don’t yet know if Europa s volcanically active and therefore capable of creating life-supporting hydrothermal vents like we have on Earth.
These are all things that the future mission will focus on.
How far away is Jupiter from Earth?
Learn how long it takes to get the largest planet in the solar system…
- At the closest point in their respective orbits, Jupiter and Earth are around 365 million miles apart.
- But because neither planet spins around the sun in a perfect circle, nor at the same speed, this number fluctuates dramatically.
- When they are furthest apart the planets are 601 million miles apart, more than two thirds farther away than they are at their nearest.
- As it is further away Jupiter takes 11.86 Earth-years to complete one orbit of the sun.
- While we travel around our star we catch up with the gas Giant once every 399 days, causing the gas giant to appear to travel backwards in the night sky.
Most read in Science
In other space news, Nasa has revealed a stunning simulation of what sunsets would look like on different planets.
Mysterious signals have been coming from space for over 500 days and scientists aren’t sure why.
And, Elon Musk has said SpaceX’s Starship rocket, which he hopes will put Americans on Mars, is now the company’s “top priority”.
Do you think we’ll ever find alien life? Let us know in the comments…
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at email@example.com