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Could Europa Hold the Key to Alien Life?

Jupiter's Moon Europa
Published: 7:55 AM 11/25/2014

The icy orbiter is thought by many to be the most likely candidate for alien life in our solar system...

By Alex Galbraith, The Space Reporter

NASA has released a new image of Europa, one of the most likely candidates for harboring life in our solar system. That sound you hear is millions of people changing their desktop backgrounds. NASA released a new high-definition image of Europa on November 21.

The image was created using shots from the Galileo probe. Image rendering software took the images and simulated visual light wavelengths. The result “more closely approximates what the human eye would see” according to NASA.

Those long brown lines are fractures in the ice that covers the moon. Astronomers think that the cracks can tell us about the early history of Europa and the chemistry of the ocean underneath.

The moon of Jupiter is more than just a pretty surface. The icy orbiter is thought by many to be the most likely candidate for alien life in our solar system. Astronomers believe that the oceans underneath the moon’s thick ice sheets may contain primitive life. The blue and white areas of Europa are ice that is made of pure water, a good sign for scientists on a hunt extraterrestrial life.

“Hidden beneath Europa’s icy surface is perhaps the most promising place in our solar system beyond Earth to look for present-day environments that are suitable for life,” NASA said.

NASA also produced a new video showcasing why Europa is a good candidate for alien life.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena have been studying a strange species of shrimp on our own planet for a better understanding of the type of life that may exist on Europa. These shrimp surround deep hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor in the Caribbean. The vents support bacteria who in turn feed the shrimp.

“Whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that’s released there, through hydrothermal vents,” said Emma Versteegh, a postdoctoral fellow studying the shrimp at JPL.

The belief in life on Europa is so strong; in fact, NASA has already begun considering a trip to the far-off moon.

“The possibility of life on Europa is a motivating force for scientists and engineers around the world,” said John Grunsfeld, an associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, when the announcement was made this summer. “This solicitation will select instruments which may provide a big leap in our search to answer the question: are we alone in the universe?”

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