The Potential (and the Potential Challenges) of Life on Europa

Europa-moon

When discussing the potential of finding life in our solar system, people are inclined to think of discovering large and complex life forms such as humans on another planet. Surprisingly, if we are to find life in our solar system outside of Earth, it will most likely be in the form of microorganisms within another planet’s moon. This moon, known as Europa, offers promising conditions for supporting life because it most likely contains a giant ocean beneath its surface and the correct elements to sustain life such as oxygen, water and other organic chemicals. Additionally, due to the moon’s elliptical orbit around Jupiter, which stretches and relaxes the moon, volcanic activity under the water may be possible, which means that these volcanoes could supply nutrients and act as heating vents in the water, which could support life. Despite these advantageous conditions for life that are present in Europa, life in this environment would not be easy. Although space probes have not seen beneath Europa’s surface, if Europa’ outer ice shell is as deep as NASA believes (10-15 miles thick), then no sunlight could reach the water. Because of this, organisms under Europa’s surface would have to rely on geothermal energy to in order to survive instead of solar energy. This geothermal energy would have to come from the volcanoes on Europa’s sea floor, but because Europa’s oceans are deeper than Earth’s, the organisms which would rely on this volcanic activity must be able to adapt to the extreme pressure that is even greater than the pressure found on Earth’s sea floor. This being said, while life on Europa is considered to be a possibility, it will never be anything more than speculation until NASA plunges a capable space probe into Europa’s ocean. Despite this uncertainty, it is still fascinating to think about the potential, and the potential challenges, presented to organisms on Europa.

3 thoughts on “The Potential (and the Potential Challenges) of Life on Europa

  1. While it would be awesome if life was found on Europa I’m scared to think what we might accidentally due to it. Imagine if some pathogen unbeknownst to us was on one of our undersea probes and found its way into Europa’s waters. It would be like what happened when Europeans brought their diseases to the Americas but much, much worse.

    Like

  2. If such living micro-organisms exist on Europa, it would be very interesting because it would highlight the possibility of more complex organisms on other planets that are outside the solar system. I heard there are many exoplanets that might have habitable conditions for us humans to live. If life could emerge on Europa, then there might be organisms like us somewhere in the universe. I really hope we get to explore more on these planets to seek any life.

    Like

  3. It is very exciting to know that the discovery of life outside of our planet is possible within our lifetime and in our own solar back yard! I hope NASA puts more emphasis on sending out probes specifically in search of life to Europa and places with similar chances of harboring life.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s