Six Moons with possible Life.

Over the last few decades our knowledge about some of the many Moons in our solar system has changed. It has been discovered that for a world to have stable conditions for life, it is not required to be in the Goldilocks zone. Moons orbiting super planets can also meet the conditions which would allow life to evolve. Better still, several of the moons in our own solar system meet these conditions. Following is a little guide to six Moons in our solar system which are gaining special attention, and over the next few years will almost certainly transform Exobiology from theoretical science into practical science. 

GANYMEDEganymedenoaa

Ganymede, this moon of Jupiter is the largest moon in the Solar System, indeed it is larger than the planet Mercury. Ganymede is believed to have an oxygen atmosphere and uniquely, from all the other moons in the solar system, a magnetosphere. Most interestingly perhaps, Ganymede is believed to have a large saltwater ocean with a rocky sea floor.

ganymede_diagram

The above artist impression shows why Ganymede is so interesting.

EUROPA

europa-moon

Europa.  A moon of Jupiter, slightly smaller than our own moon. Like Ganymede, Europa has an oxygen atmosphere and a vast saltwater ocean.Europa is a very stable moon and life on it, if any, could have had a long time to evolve and  ecosystems formed. This could allow for ‘larger’, more sentient creatures to evolve. For this reason we must be careful not to contaminate Europa.

437px-europainterior1

This artist impression again shows why Europa is so interesting.

CALLISTO

callisto

Callisto. Moon of Jupiter. Again this moon is believed to have a subsurface liquid water ocean. Of future interest for Jupiter watchers, Callisto is being eyed up as a potential base camp location for any manned missions to the Jovian system.

_interior_of_callisto

Above is the suspected internal structure of Callisto.

TITAN

titan

TITAN. Oh Titan Saturn’s largest moon. Like its name suggests, this is a large moon, indeed the second largest in the solar system and like Ganymede, larger than the planet Mercury. Titan is extremely interesting, those glints in the northern section of the above photograph  actually show infrared sunlight reflecting off vast Hydrocarbon seas on Titan surface. The Northern portion of Titan has large liquid lakes and seas with coastlines and islands. Titan also has a dense, Nitrogen rich fully evolved atmosphere, with Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere & Thermosphere. Titan has weather, with methane rain and snow falling onto its surface. On that surface, as stated are lakes and seas, but also valleys, mountains, hills, deserts, river systems and you maybe suprised to hear, a ESA /NASA probe landed on it’s surface in 2005. Huygens probe.

Below Titans surface its believed liquid ammonia/water oceans 200km deep could exist. Indeed Titan is an amazing world.

titan-structure

above is Titans suspected internal structure.

 

ENCELADUS

enceladus

Enceladus is a moon of Saturn and whilst small (it could fit in the North Sea between Great Britain and Holland), its very interesting.  It southern region is of most interest with Cyrovolcanoes (ice volcanoes) and over 100 Geysers. It is highly likely a liquid water ocean is under the ice to its south. It is believed hydro-thermal activity  occurs within its Ocean. Organic chemistry has been detected in the southern active plumes/jets.

saturnmoon-enceladus-ocean

An artist impression of the suspected internal structure on Enceladus.

DIONE

dione

DIONE, another moon of Saturn. Dione is mostly made up of water ice. It has a very thin Oxygen atmosphere and recent findings suggest it may have a subsurface Liquid water ocean.

further study ~

Ganymede

Europa

Callisto

Titan

Enceladus

Dione

Europa : A space Odyssey

 

jpl-europa-from-galileo-mission

Jupiter’s Moon Europa has fascinated me since I first became aware of it 28 years ago,  experimenting with Psilocybe Semilanceata watching Stanley Kubrick’s & Arthur C Clarke’s mind melting 2001: A Space Odyssey. As you can imagine, this would have a powerful effect on a 17 year old looking for more….. Europa was seeded deeply in my mindscope.

28 years ago I had to go to something called a ‘public library’ to delve deeper into this Moons information sets, up to date data was frustratingly out of my reach  . Today things are different, today we have ‘the cyber’ giving virtually full access to the current available data collected on Europa. Over the proceeding years Europa has not let me down…indeed Europa has not let any of us down.

 Why?

The easy answer is read the wikipedia page for Europa yourself. Europa has a vast stable chemically rich warm salt water ocean. Indeed an ocean bigger than all Earths oceans combined. For a scientist this makes Europa very very Sexy.

pia18428

Europa in my opinion has life, and not just microbial life….but aquatic large ‘animals’. This holds the key for perhaps the most interesting question about non earth evolved creatures (astrobiology)…do they have RNA-DNA ? What is their genetic make-up?

It is my opinion that they would have DNA and use genetic coding. Thus proving the evolution of life using DNA is a universal ‘phenomenon’.  Abiogenesis.

I would hope this would push scientists into seeing what the Data has been saying & indeed shouting for years now, namely : the Universe was not started by a random bang.

The universe was not created by a random bang. This discovery changes our view on everything. It would suggest architecture, an architect. This should not be feared, and should not open the doors to religious mumbo jumbo. It would show the universe, as I have always suspected, was designed to be interactive and intelligent. It will play with us. The universe contains all the tools needed to escape it.

We have 3 hopes to finally answer the question of  Astrobiology.

  1. Build a ship and go to other star systems hoping to finds alien life to DNA test…this may take thousands of years.
  2. Hope an alien visits us and allows us to DNA test…this is unlikely as we need to discover this for ourselves.
  3. Hope one of the Moons in our solar system has life…and Europa has my heart.

Europa offers a real possibility of getting this question answered in my lifetime. Alas this still could be over 10 years away.  NASA has been very slow with Europa missions, perhaps for good reason… until the 2016 confirmation of water plumes from Europa’s southern polar region, any mission to Europa’s water ocean would have involved travelling through many kilometers of Ice. This has now completely changed, hopefully NASA will be quick now to make Europa priority One.

We can now test for life on Europa without having to even land on it.

This leads back perhaps to the warning from Arthur C Clarke’s 2010:Odyssey Two~

ALL THESE WORLDS
ARE YOURS EXCEPT
EUROPA
ATTEMPT NO
LANDING THERE
USE THEM TOGETHER
USE THEM IN PEACE

Indeed the universe does seem to play with us.

Galilean_moon_Laplace_resonance_animation.gif

nasa europa 

Europa youtube