Sunday, November 23, 2008

UA scientist makes the case for life on Europa

UA planetary scientist Richard Greenberg says the oceans of Jupiter's moon Europa hold twice as much liquid water as all the oceans on Earth combined, in a new book, "Unmasking Europa: The Search for Life on Jupiter's Ocean Moon." Greenberg says the moon also has all the ingredients for life - heat, organic molecules, and oxygen.

His perspective is that the icy crust is thin and permeable, allowing possible ocean life to have been exposed on the surface. That would eliminate the need to drill down through miles of solid ice to reach liquid water. [right, enhanced-color image of Europa, from NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Credit, NASA/JPL/University of Arizona]

"Not only is Europa probably one of the best places to look for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, it may be an easier place to look than thought," Greenberg said in an interview.

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