Tech & Science Earthquakes Might Be Feeding Alien Life on Europa

01:38  06 december  2017
01:38  06 december  2017 Source:   newsweek.com

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Earthquakes could be fueling life on Europa , one of Jupiter’s moons. Scientists have shown that huge chunks of the moon’s ice crust could be sinking others Scientists just found more evidence that this mysterious water world might be able to support alien life . Alien Life May Feed Off Of Galactic.

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Earthquakes could be fueling life on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Scientists have shown that huge chunks of the moon’s ice crust could be sinking others, infusing its underground ocean with chemical food.

The earth’s crust is split into many distinct plates, the largest of which we know as continents. Tectonics describes the movement of these huge, deep pieces of rock, as they collide, submerge and fracture. The vast amounts of energy released by this activity causes earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Geophysicists from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, have shown that tectonic activity is also feasible within Europa’s ice shell. They used a computer simulation to map subduction—where one giant slab of ice is forced under another.

The research was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets yesterday.

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All the conditions for life may be met, somewhere in those dark waters. Europa has held out the promise of alien life since 1979, when Nasa's Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past it. Voyager revealed that Europa 's surface is a thick layer of ice.

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Europa’s tectonic features have been studied for a number of years. Previous studies have pointed towards the possibility of subduction. The moon’s icy surface is relatively smooth, suggesting it is frequently resurfaced by tectonic activity.

Subduction seemed a likely cause because of the ridges that cut through the moon’s oceans, the authors explained. Over many thousands of years, the earth’s tectonic plates have been pushed further and further apart. Huge undersea mountain systems mark this incredible movement today. Similar submarine ridges suggest the outer shell of Europa is expanding too.

Space Jupiter Second Spot © Associated Press Space Jupiter Second Spot "We have this evidence of extension and spreading, so the question becomes where does that material go?" Brandon Johnson, lead author of the study, said in a press release. "On Earth, the answer is subduction zones. What we show is that under reasonable assumptions for conditions on Europa, subduction could be happening there as well, which is really exciting."


The team created a sophisticated computer model of Europa, based on Earth’s tectonic activity. The team’s research suggests that, below the very cold surface of the moon, there is a slightly warmer layer of ice. Depending on the concentration of salt in the two crusts, slabs of warmer ice could be forced all the way down to the moon’s vast underground ocean. Salt encourages ice to conduct heat, which is why we salt snowy roads in winter.

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Europa has long been seen as a possible candidate to have extraterrestrial life in our own solar system. Huge plumes of water have been spurting out of Europa , one of Jupiter’s moons – and it might be the best place in our solar system to find aliens .

Indeed, Jupiter's moon Europa is a top target in the search for life beyond Earth. The icy world conceals a subsurface water ocean where interesting things might be swimming around. Newfound Earth-like planet a good spot to hunt for alien life .

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Tectonics could provide alien food

Destructive as tectonics are on earth, the movement of plates could be fundamental to life on Europa. Scientists believe that the moon’s vast underground sea is potentially filled with organisms. On Earth, subduction can draw magma from below the crust. On Europa, it could draw life-filled water up from the sea with the icy crust infusing the water with chemical food.


"If indeed there's life in that ocean, subduction offers a way to supply the nutrients it would need," Johnson said.

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