Can life exist on Jupiter’s icy moon?

Can life exist on Jupiter’s icy moon?

Ice satellite of Jupiter Europe - the main goal of research in the field of astrobiology. The fact is that the object has a possible habitat. Under the icy 10-kilometer crust lies a liquid ocean of water, whose depth reaches more than 100 km. The gravitational contact of the satellite and the planet creates energy that keeps the ocean water heated.

Brazilian scientists have decided to conduct a new study to assess the likelihood of microbial survival in Europe. To do this, we considered various effects of a biologically useful energy source, focusing on a similar environment on Earth. Africa was used as a target.

In South Africa there is the Mponeng gold mine (Johannesburg district). At a depth of 2.8 km, scientists have found traces of major changes related to the history of life on earth. They also noticed that the bacteria Candidatus desulforudis audaxviator can survive inside without sunlight, using radiolysis of water. The water in the mine moves through cracks containing radioactive uranium. The latter destroys water molecules, getting free radicals (H +, OH- and others). They attack the surrounding rocks, especially pyrite (FeS 2), creating sulphate. Bacteria use it for synthesis. This is the first time to find an ecosystem that survives due to nuclear energy. Moreover, this environment corresponds to that which is present in Europe.

The temperature on the satellite surface is approaching absolute zero, but the core has a huge stock of thermal energy (Europe is in contact with Jupiter by gravity). This leads to geometric deformation and warming of the ocean.

But this process is not enough. Researchers believe that biological activity is based on differences in the concentrations of molecules, ions, or electrons in certain areas. They create a flow in a certain direction, which allows you to select the processes peculiar to living beings. Hydrothermal sources are the most plausible scenario for the emergence of terrestrial life.

Conditions on Europe

The chemical imbalance on the satellite could have arisen due to the emanation of water, which led to chain reactions between water and chemical elements fixed in the cortex of Europe. But these arguments lack empirical support. Therefore, it was decided that the effect could be a consequence of the action of radioactivity.

Bodies in our system with stony nuclei possess similar radioactive materials thrown by supernovae into space during an explosion. Scientists studied the concentrations of uranium, thorium and potassium in Europe by comparing data with meteorites on Earth and Mars.

Research has shown that pyrite is the most important component of life in Europe. Perhaps traces of pyrite should be considered as part of any assessment of the habitability of a celestial body. Therefore, the ocean of Europe provides excellent conditions for the existence of a primitive life that was present on Earth in the first billions of years. Then the study of the satellite of Jupiter allows you to look at the analogue of the past of our planet and, perhaps, to find life.

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