4 Ice Planets Where We Could Find Alien Life

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 - 1:22PM
Alien Life
Astronomy
Tuesday, 07 November 2017 - 1:22PM
4 Ice Planets Where We Could Find Alien Life
Image credit: NASA
Discoveries of life on Earth that survive in cold, deep parts of the oceans give us hope that similar creatures may be hiding on the icy moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn.

Despite water's freezing point of 0-degrees Celsius, salinity allows some portions of oceans to dip to temperatures as low as -12-degrees C.

Everyone knows a human wouldn't last long in such waters, but organisms known as psychrophiles pull off such a feat by producing personal antifreeze and cryoprotectants to ward off freezing damages.

Psychrophiles can find nutrition and reproduce in these environments, which scientists believe may mirror the harsh conditions found on these four planetary satellites.

Europa




One of the more scientifically celebrated candidates for life, this Jovian moon has a surface of ice, striped with fractures. 

Not quite as large as Earth's moon, Europa is believed to possess a salty ocean beneath its ice and above its mantle.

Traveling around Jupiter in an elliptical orbit, the planet's gravity flexes the moon's ice, supplying energy in the process. Combined with potential hydrothermal or volcanic activity, any water on Europa could be nutritionally viable for life.

Let's just hope that if humans do eventually investigate Europa, it goes smoother for that mission than it did for Sharlto Copleyand his crew…or Dr. Heywood Floyd.

Ganymede




Talk about a bum steer for a celestial body... This moon is bigger than the planet Mercury and is 75 percent the size of Mars, but instead of zipping around the Sun, it's just Jovian jewelry around Jupiter, with an icy surface possibly as thick as almost 500 miles.

Much of its terrain is grooved, and scientists believe this is a result of water beneath its surface. Although its potential for life isn't as theoretically sound as Europa, the presence of water is always thought of as a plus for the possibility.

Enceladus




In orbit around Saturn, it's somewhat minuscule at a mere 157 miles in radius—but ice particles and water vapor blast out from beneath its icy surface through hydrothermal vents, and these jets contain salts, carbon dioxide, silica and organic compounds, among other things.

Data from the Cassini–Huygens mission showed that Enceladus wobbles as it travels around its host planet, indicating a liquid ocean is present, possibly as deep as six miles. Needless to say, scientists have high hopes for finding life on this world.

Titan




The second-largest moon in the solar system (behind Ganymede), this Saturnian moon has an average temperature of -290 degrees Fahrenheit, so it doesn't have the water/ice intrigue that other moons offer. However, with lakes and rivers of liquid methane and ethane, which also form clouds, there is rain on Titan, albeit not H20.

Its atmosphere is 95 percent nitrogen and approximately 5 percent methane, which reacts with Saturn's magnetic field and the Sun's ultraviolet light to form organic molecules, elements crucial to life on Earth.
 
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4 Ice Planets Where We Could Find Alien Life
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