Monday, June 07, 2010

Enough oxygen in Europa's oceans to support life

UA planetary scientist Richard Greenberg calculates that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa could have an oxygenated layer more than 300 m thick, with oxygen levels being generated that are high enough now to support 3 million tons of macrofauna, "assuming respiration rates similar to terrestrial marine organisms."

The study was published recently in the journal Astrobiology. [below, animation from NASA on a possible mission to Europa's ocean]

Richard Greenberg, "Transport Rates of Radiolytic Substances into Europa's Ocean: Implications for the Potential Origin and Maintenance of Life," Astrobiology, April 2010, 10(3): 275-283, doi:10.1089/ast.2009.0386

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