Jupiter Moon Lakes Might Support Life
Vast lakes lie just beneath Europa's icy surface: Scientists
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2011 1:10 AM CST
Updated Nov 17, 2011 5:17 AM CST
Europa has long been considered one of the places in the solar system likeliest to hold extraterrestrial life.   (AP Photo/Jet Propulsion Lab)

(Newser) – The chances of life existing on Jupiter's ice-covered moon Europa—and of Earthlings being able to find it—are looking a lot stronger, NASA scientists say. A vast ocean is believed to lie beneath as much as 20 miles of ice on Europa, but new research suggests that huge lakes exist a lot closer to the surface. A suspected interchange of water between the lakes and the ocean means that nutrients could be transferred from near the surface to life far below, the BBC reports.

The research team examined bumps known as "chaos terrain" on Europa's surface and developed models based on the way ice moves around on Earth. If the researchers are right, "you've moved from a system that checks one of the requirements for life to a system that checks two requirements for life," an astrobiologist tells the Christian Science Monitor. The only way to confirm the findings would be to send a spacecraft to Europa to investigate. A mission is on the drawing board but NASA hasn't approved anything yet, CNN notes.

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Showing 3 of 15 comments
baranoww
Nov 27, 2011 11:11 PM CST
Eu ropa, me ropa, we all ropa...
VolOtog
Nov 17, 2011 1:50 PM CST
I never really understood WHY scientists are so set on finding water on other planets. I do believe that there is life beyond Earth somewhere, but I don't see why these aliens all need water. Sure, it's something to work off of, but what if we're overlooking things that are not as obvious..
ExceleRater
Nov 17, 2011 11:56 AM CST
I have heard that life on Jupiter exists only on weekends. But nobody could dance there; you would be lucky if you could crawl. http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/weight/