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Blog 6: Life on Europa?

Physical makeup of Europa

We’ve all heard about the potential of life on Mars, but did you know that there could possibly be life in the outer solar system as well? In general, the outer solar system has such low temperatures that finding surface liquid water is quite unlikely. However, certain places, such as some of Jupiter’s moons, have lakes or oceans full of liquid water below their surface. Three of Jupiter’s moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, all have subsurface oceans. Out of these, Europa is the most likely to be somewhat inhabitable. Scientists believe that the ice and rock that created Europa has all of the ingredients that are necessary for life. Furthermore, Europa has strong internal heating due to tidal heating. While Europa seems like it could potentially have everything needed for life to originate, sunlight cannot cause photosynthesis in a subsurface ocean. Since it has much fewer energy sources for life, any life that exists there would probably be primitive and microscopic. However, if it did have proper energy sources, since its ocean is so large, the creatures that could live there could be much larger than us. This is all speculation with what little data we have about this moon, but scientists are hoping to one day send a robotic submarine that could melt through the multiple kilometers of ice and into the ocean below. 


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