New study shows possibility of life on Jupiter’s moon, Europa

A recent study has found that life might be possible on one of Jupiter’s moons.

By Bronte Price, PoliticKING

A new study has found that Jupiter's moon Europa might be able to support life. Even if there is little or no volcanic activity under the icy shell, the study, which was published online last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, still shows the potential for life on Europa.

Beneath Europa's icy shell, there is a salty ocean of liquid water which scientists think could be habitable. The moon would need to harbor the required chemical “building blocks” and the right proportion of elements to provide energy for biological systems.

The new study finds that there is enough of that energy to support life. A research team led by at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, led by Steve Vance, found that Europa likely produces 10 times more oxygen than hydrogen, exactly the same amount as Earth.

The team's calculations show that Europa's hydrogen is generated while seawater reacts with rock in the moon's crust. The moon has cooled slowly over the eons, which has formed new cracks in the crust exposing more rock to seawater, generating more hydrogen. The oxygen would come from ice on Europa's surface. Radiation from Jupiter also breaks water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

The neighboring moon Io is reportedly the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Jupiter's gravity and have deformed Io's crust and mantle, which has generated huge amounts of heat. Many scientists have thought that Europa would be volcanically active because of Jupiter's gravity. Scientists are not sure whether or not the same thing is happening to Europa.

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