Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Life On Europa

"All of these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landing there." - Arthur C. Clarke.

Europa has long been considered a possible candidate for extraterrestrial life in our own solar system. It's believed that the moon has an icy crust over a liquid water ocean. Or...should we say mantle?

Apparently, the movement of the ice on Europa appears to follow the same mechanism and rules as Earth's plate tectonics - previously thought to be unique.

And this allows for movement through the icy surface and underlying layers. Motion and change promote the development of life. So it's one more piece of evidence.

It also means that Europa has earthquakes and volcanoes - but those volcanoes spout water instead of lava.

The question now - should we attempt a landing there? Or do we risk contaminating a beautiful and different world?