Aurion Mission

Friday, August 12, 2011

Exobiology in Europa (moon)

Exobiology in Europa Srika Prathipati 21 April 2007 Europa is one of the 16 moons orbiting Jupiter . According to studies undertaken it is understood that below the frozen exterior of ice , there is a sea of liquid water present . The surface of Europa had giant ice domes interrupting its surface . These mysterious domes seem to have formed by splashes of ice from the heart of the frozen crust , that were being pressed up due to the thermal flow from ice , which was warmer underneath . Scientists felt that there must have been some impurities such as sodium chloride or sulfuric acid involved , in the forming of the ice domes .Further studies revealed that Europa had existing microorganisms , which were alike in size and density to bacteria found on Earth . Further doubts have been raised if a frozen moon with an exterior temperature of 260 o F could generate sources of power useful for the essential chemical reactions to survive . An advanced new study showed that Europa certainly has lots of biological energy , which come in the form of several electric particles that continuously come down from the adjacent Jupiter .Photosynthesis is the process in which plants and algae use power from sunlight to generate their own natural molecules out of carbon dioxide gas , which comes from the atmosphere or the ocean . But according to scientists , the energy provided by sunlight will not be sufficient to maintain life on Europa , since the seawater lies under an icy layer ,which is too thick to allow photosynthesis . The easiest source of energy could be obtained from fast moving ,Exobiology in Europa electric particles that strike Europa from the environment of Jupiter .The magnetic field of Jupiter , which is 10 times more than that of Earth , is the strongest . Protons , electrons and other elements from space speed up to exceptionally higher velocities , when they get trapped in Jupiter ‘s magnetosphere .Hyphomicrobium , which is one of the most widespread bacteria on Earth ,lives on formaldehyde as its one and only source of carbon , and similar microbes which feed on formaldehyde could be living and going around in Europa ‘s subsurface sea . Other than producing organic fuels , energy from Jupiter also can force chemical reactions that create oxidants and molecules like hydrogen peroxide and oxygen that could be used to burn formaldehyde and fuels that are carbon-based .But the oxidants and natural molecules that formed on Europa ‘s cold surface would be organically applicable only if they reached the sub surface ocean . The main problem was that , if at all there is a liquid sea on Europa , it is concealed under an ice sheet about 50 to100 miles thick . Therefore if celestial creatures have to take in formaldehyde ,there had to be a means to get formaldehyde all the way through the thick layer of ice into the liquid sea underneath .Europa seems to have very strong tidal action (which is caused by the pull of Jupiter ‘s magnitude and the movement of the moon ‘s path…