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Thread: Europa has an ocean of water and it may support life.

  1. #1 Europa has an ocean of water and it may support life. 
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    There may be enough oxygen in the waters of Jupiter's moon Europa to support millions of tons worth of fish, according to a new study. And while nobody is suggesting there might actually be fish on Europa, this finding suggests the Jovian satellite could be capable of supporting the kinds of life familiar to us here on Earth, if only in microbial form.

    Europa, which is roughly the size of Earth's moon, is enveloped by a global ocean about 100 miles deep (160 kilometers), with an icy crust that may be only a few miles thick.


    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37384702...cience-space//


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    As I understand it, the oceans on Earth were too turbulent for the building blocks of life to originally coalesce. Instead, shallow tidal pools close to shore are the likely location for this. There, proto-viruses could spawn in a calmer environment. A virus is basically just a fragile strand of chemically encoded instructions in the form of RNA that lives in its food, which in this case would be the amino acids suspended in the pool of water. Although, not technically organisms, a mutating virus may be the first rung on the ladder of life. Only after hardier organisms with outer cell membranes evolved did they spread to the oceans. So where would the calm waters be in a super ocean constantly churned by the gravity of Jupiter? Molecules happen for a scientific reason and the molecules of life are no different.


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arch2008
    As I understand it, the oceans on Earth were too turbulent for the building blocks of life to originally coalesce.
    I have not heard this specific suggestion before. Do you have a source?
    The turbulence of surface waters, generating large numbers of water droplets rich in organic material, have been suggested as one means by which environments for primitve metabolisms were established.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arch2008
    Instead, shallow tidal pools close to shore are the likely location for this.
    Darwin's 'warm little pond' has largely been discarded in favour of black smokers. Personally, I think its a move in the wrong direction, but what do I know?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arch2008
    There, proto-viruses could spawn in a calmer environment. .
    I understood the consensus view is that viruses are degraded life forms, not a form of proto life. Present day viruses cannot function without the cellular machinery of their invaded host.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arch2008
    So where would the calm waters be in a super ocean constantly churned by the gravity of Jupiter?
    Churned? You are being rather poetic, aren't you. Powerful currents may exist, but if you are a group of molecules lying within a powerful current then relatively speaking you are at rest.
    I can't generate turbulent flow from Jupiter's gravity in a Europan ocean in any back of the envelope calculation. Can you?
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    Well, again, we don’t know how atoms became organisms, but Isaac Asimov in his book “The Wellsprings of Life” described proto-viruses as a possibility for the first “life” form. RNA has fewer pieces to its puzzle than DNA, so it would arguably form more easily. As you mention, a cell already has a lot of “machinery” that first had to evolve from something simpler. Once you have something with genetically encoded information, like a virus, all it has to do is mutate to add information randomly to its code that becomes this machinery. I heard that black smokers only exist for a million years or so and that this was (perhaps) not enough time for life to evolve. As to the churning, if there is an ocean it is because of tidal flexing.

    http://www.abebooks.com/978045161420...0451614208/plp
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA_world_hypothesis
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    You will note that Asimov's book was published in 1961. A bit out of date now!

    Where did life originate? No-one knows. Black smokers are just a hypothesis. I have seen a range of similar hypotheses from rock pools, to astronomical nebulae, to radioactive beach sands.

    Since we do not know how life originated on Earth, we have pretty much zero chance of predicting how likely it is to have developed in any specific place off Earth.

    So basically, we are going to have to wait until technology is good enough to send a suitable probe to find out directly.
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    Actually, one might say that after nearly a half century, the RNA World Hypothesis is still considered significant. Science applies just as much to what we don’t know as to what we do. Why should we go through the universe as some kind of Ponce De Leon desperately looking for the Fountain of Life. Atoms stick together because of electromagnetism. Some molecules form stronger bonds than others (ionic or covalent). Molecules happen for a reason and this applies to the original molecules of life. We don’t have to watch a group of giant nebulae for a billion years to know how they would collapse into a galaxy cluster. We understand the physics of it and we can run a computer simulation of the process. We should be able to learn the process that turned atoms into organisms. Then we can stop playing guessing games and get back to exploring the universe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arch2008
    Actually, one might say that after nearly a half century, the RNA World Hypothesis is still considered significant. .
    And the RNA world is not the same as claiming the first life was a proto-virus.
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    Well, Asimov had to call it something. In the RNA world scheme of things, it preceded a virus. What we claim is cold dark matter will probably have a real name some day.
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    I was looking for life on Europa I would look at the ice-ocean interface and within the ice itself. I would speculate that life forming in such locations would be easier than having it happen "mid-ocean", as it were.
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    Hypothetical life on Europa would need an energy source - probably chemical, but possibly a heat source. To find such life, find first the energy source, and look there.
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    How would you know what the energy source was, before you discovered the alien organism?
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    You would not. I should have said you need to look for energy sources (plural).
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    If life (or even enzymes) at the bottom of the scale can process chemicals into something usable, then organisms a bit further up the ladder can ingest them.

    Some believe life on Earth began around volcanic vents on the ocean floor. I don't know if Europa has it's equivalence?
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    Seems plausible. Does Europa have a Goldilocks gradient? If the crust is too cold, yet the core is too hot... then logically...?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Cyberia wrote (Sorry, can't get quote to work): "Some believe life on Earth began around volcanic vents on the ocean floor. I don't know if Europa has it's equivalence?"
    Europa is too small to be geologically active. So it can't have volcanic heat source.
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    Europa is geologically active /w plate movement and gysers - due to the intense tide of Jupiter. Additional explanation for the plates *I imagine* is the expansion of (watery) Europa as it cools.

    The gysers technically are volcanoes, because that hot water is molten mantle, that will harden into what passes for rock on the surface.

    I reckon Europa's equivalent to Earth's undersea vents would be on the crust underside, where tickled by a hot current. Images of Antartic krill feeding on the underside of sea ice come to mind.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole
    Cyberia wrote (Sorry, can't get quote to work): "Some believe life on Earth began around volcanic vents on the ocean floor. I don't know if Europa has it's equivalence?"
    Europa is too small to be geologically active. So it can't have volcanic heat source.
    Not really true. Io, is about the same size and probably the most geologically active place in the solar system.
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    It is active? Didn't do my research.
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    Io is incredibly active. As Lynx says it is the most active planet in the solar system. I think the oldests part of its surface i measured in millions of years only: a total contrast with the rest of the sytem.

    However its activity is due to the intense tidal flexing that occurs, with tides raising and lowering the surface by around 30m each orbit. (It is tidally locked with Jupiter.) Europa is further out and so does not experience the same amount of tidal flexure and so less heat would be generated - but keep itn mind if ther eis liquid water then we already know it's got to be quite hot.
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    Can't read much of this since it's behind a pay-wall: Strong ocean tidal flow and heating on moons of the outer planets. It suggests that another form of tidal energy, called Rossby waves, is the main source of energy heating the proposed ocean of Europa.
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    If it is water under the ice, It may support life, Because water ''producing'' H & O, (But water is made of H & O). But anyway, It's should maby support life to fishes under the ice.

    And if is geologically activity it should warm up the water, And the ice cool it down. And what celcius the geologically activity have.

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    the outside of europa is frozen solid and the inside is is a heated core creating an ocean inside.... whats to stop it from heating up more or breaking through the ice? if jupiters gravity stretches the moon wouldn't it by now have found some way of breaking through the ice to reveal the hidden ocean? or is it by some miraculous chance of one in a zillion chance that with other satellites and jupiter it creates a perfect balance to how much ice covers the moon and still continues a constant heating source within the center.... and with the iron core... its just a theory... its what they think it is... its just a guess.

    while we are throwing guesses out there, maybe it was just a comet that collided with jupiter creating the hotspot (meant to say the great red spot :P and got stuck into Jupiters gravitational orbit forming the now Europa ice moon..... i hate things that are not clearly shown with proof or clarity which makes me question every question involving the universe...... O.o

    ~I'm telling you, you have to go over there and get it done..... But WHY?~
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