“New findings from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show suspected water plumes erupting from Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. These observations bolster earlier Hubble work suggesting that Europa is venting water vapor. The plumes are estimated to rise about 125 miles before, presumably, raining material back down onto Europa’s surface. This is exciting because Europa is a plausible place for life to have developed beyond the Earth. If the venting plumes originate in a subsurface ocean, they could act as an elevator to bring deep-sea life above Europa’s surface, where it could be sampled by visiting spacecraft. This offers a convenient way to access the chemistry of that ocean without drilling through miles of ice”
The new ESA mission is set to study the bigger moons of Jupiter for signs of life. 20 years ago this project would have been dismissed as mad, but the last two decades of Earth studies have changed all that. We found that now matter where we look at on Earth, no matter how inhospitable, no matter how nasty, if you provide some sort of heat and liquid then you get life. Now we’re not talking about iPhones, coffee and Facebook; but we do get microorganisms, bigger life that lives on them, bigger ones depend on those and so on. This makes the galilean moons of Jupiter prime candidates. Their proximity to the giant planets means they get squished and squashed during their orbits, keeping them hot inside. Their icy composition makes water a distinct possibility. Take some water, add in heat, and why not have life? We’ll know soon, and it could change everything.