Recently (April 22nd), the world celebrated Earth Day, and - as of yet...this is the only planet known to host life....but where else in our solar system might life exist?
Credit: NASA/JPL - Caltech/SETI Insititue....Jupiter' moon - Europa.
A recent survey asked that very question - and the results were very interesting.
Jupiter's moon - Europa...took the top spot in suggested places of where life might be expected....getting 47% of the votes. It's a 1900 mile wide satellite that apparently harbours a huge ocean of liquid water - beneath an icy shell, and many scientists are now thinking, that this ocean may be in contact with its moon's mantle - and this poses all sorts of interesting chemical reactions...
NASA is getting plans together for a launch in the next decade to check on Europa's potential to host life. The spacecraft being sent will perform dozens of fly pasts of the the moon from Jupiters orbit - as well as exploring the possibility of sending a lander too.
In the survey - Mars came in second, with 23% of the vote. Observations by NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover and other probes, have suggested that some parts of the planet were habitable millions of years ago.
Back then, Mars was a pretty warm place - relatively speaking, with large areas of liquid water on its surface. Since then, Mars has lost much of its atmosphere...with the planet turning dry, cold and fried with radiation as a result....
But some scientists/researchers think that microbiological life may still survive under the surface.
Saturn's huge moon Titan, was picked by 16% of respondents. This 3,200 mile wide moon, is the only world in the solar system apart from Earth known to hold stable bodies of liquid on its surface - but the seas and lakes of Titan are full of hydrocarbons - like ethane instead of water.
So, if life does indeed exist on Titan - then it's very likely to be different to that on Earth.
Another Saturn moon - Enceladus, gets just over 9% of the vote - like Europa, it harbours a subsurface ocean beneath an icy shell. But Enceladus is a lot smaller than the Jovian moon - with a diameter of just 310 miles.
Enceladus, is famous for the jets of water-ice and organic material that get blasted into space from its south polar region. Several research teams are now drawing up concepts that would hunt for signs of life in these geyser plumes - without ever having to touch down...but none of these ideas, has yet to be approved or funded by NASA.
Enhanced colour image of the Saturn moon Enceladus, captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. This photo shows the "tiger stripes" in the Southern Hemisphere from where the geysers erupt. Photo credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Insitute.
Around 2.5% of people, actually suggested Jupiter itself...as a promising area for the existence of life. Temperatures are a very cold 234 degrees Fahrenheit ( that's -145 degrees Celsius) in Jupiters clouds, beneath which swirls a huge ocean of liquid metallic hydrogen....
So, it's possible that we may find life in our locality - but only time and missions yet to be launched....will possibly answer that question.
Where will Alien Life be discovered first...it maybe closer than you think!
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