Astronomers Question Their Direction In The Search For Extra Terrestrial Life
Astronomers are torn as to which direction to look in the search for signals from intelligent beings on distant worlds, Jupiter’s fourth largest moon Europa or Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
Despite Mars being most commonly associated with the exploration of extraterrestrial life, research shows the conditions would be extremely dry away from its polar caps, with the exception of ice trapped beneath its surface.
A vast ocean is thought to exist beneath the frozen surface of Europa, and researchers suggest the salty oceans could harbor enough chemical energy to give rise to lifeforms.
Steve Vance from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained “As the seawater on Europa interacts with its rocky floor, hydrogen may be released through a process known as serpentinization. Such a release, triggered by the formation of minerals as deep as 15 miles beneath the ocean floor of the satellite, could have driven the rise of life there.”
However, other astronomers are quick to point out that Titan is covered in massive pools of hydrocarbons, and theorize that such oceans of methane and other organic materials may provide an ideal birthplace for the creation and evolution of extraterrestrial life.