Moon of Jupiter Could be the Best Candidate for Alien Life

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The search for extraterrestrial life has always been a fascination with us, humans. The very thought of life existing outside our planet is an exhilarating one, and the discovery of them would single-handedly be the most important scientific achievement of human history. While we have yet to find any evidence of such, there is one celestial body within our solar system that is very promising: Europa.

Europa is one of Jupiter’s 67 confirmed moons and is considered by scientists as one of the best candidates for finding alien life. There are three basic requirements for life to be present – liquid water, chemical building blocks, and a strong source of energy. Europa checks the box on all three, making it a strong case for harboring alien life on its surface, or to be more accurate, beneath its surface.

See, the surface of Europa is very cold, covered with a thick layer of ice thought to be several kilometers thick. However, beneath this crust of ice, scientists believe there is a liquid water ocean up to 100 kilometers deep. In the vast subterranean ocean, the water is hypothesized as being incredibly rich in important building blocks for life, including magnesium, potassium, and chlorine. Life on Earth thrives in such solutions, leading scientists to believe alien life could thrive there as well.

As for Europa’s energy source, hot water vents very similar to the ones found on the ocean floor of Earth. These vents could provide the necessary energy needed to support life on a wide scale, especially considering the surface of the planet is plunged in sub-zero temperatures.

While we have yet to fully explore the mysteries of Europa, scientists are pretty sure of their predictions of a massive subterranean ocean. A NASA probe that did a cursory study of the moon even flew through a giant plume of water vapor that erupted from the surface, reaching nearly a hundred miles high.

Already, there are several missions planned by NASA and the European Space Agency to search for signs of life on Europa. NASA is developing a flyby mission called Europa Clipper, which will study Europe through a series of close encounters through the atmosphere of the moon. Eventually, NASA plans to work on a surface-lander mission that would explore the surface of the moon, in addition to taking samples of beneath the surface. In fact, scientists believe the lander wouldn’t have to dig very deep into the thick ice crust to find signs of life. A study found that a lander would only have to dig about 0.4 inches to be able to detect amino acids, an important building block of life.

The life we could potentially find on Europa most likely would not intelligent by any means, nor would it be similar to life on Earth. However, Europa poses the highest probability of extraterrestrial life that we know of in our solar system. We might not find E.T., but hey, you never know..

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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