How likely is it that Europa has life under its icy surface

  1. How likely is it that Europa has life under its icy surface IF there is a liquid ocean. Would the ocean on Europa be similar to our oceans? Lastly could Europa have to hydrothermic vents in the oceans like our oceans do or does that require a molten mantle?

    Thanks for the input :)

    P.S (Hopefully they have shrimp and crab mmm :biggrin:)
  2. jcsd
  3. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Somewhere between 0 and 100 percent. We don't know.

    Only in that it's liquid water. Life has had dramatic effects on Earth's oceans.

    Not sure.
  4. Is it one of those things we won't know for sure unless we actually visit the moon? Thanks for the reply by the way :)
  5. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Yep. We won't know anything at all until we visit it.
  6. arildno

    arildno 11,265
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Although Drakkith's estimate of the probability of life on Europa (p.L.E) is correct, including its error margins, I think most scientists will accept that p.L.E is most probably strictly greater than the probability of life on a planet made up of solid ice, rather than ice+liquid water
  7. Chronos

    Chronos 10,349
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If there is liquid water on Europa, it is likely there is vulcanism. It is believed life on earth may have originated in the vicinity of underwater vents. I wouldn't expect anything much more complex than bacteria, but, the odds are favorable enough to merit exploration someday, IMO.
  8. Just as a what IF purely for the interesting conversation. What if there is complex multicellular organisms such as a squid or something like that. What would this mean for science?
  9. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    A great, great deal. It would be an absolutely amazing discovery.
  10. Chronos

    Chronos 10,349
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Complex life forms would be absolutely amazing. Maybe something like a sea slug feeding on vent bacteria. Anything more would be truly astonishing. The sun was an enormous energy source for primordial earth and it still took billions of years for multicellular life forms to emerge. I think simple life is pretty easy, complex life - not so much.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  11. What would it mean for us, say we find a sea slug would this mean we would have to completely rethink how we view the universe and we could for sure say "there is complex life out there"?

    It would be kind of cool to have another civilization like ourselves near by. Of course though this would bring in heaps of problems which I dont think people as of right now could handle.
  12. Last edited: Dec 1, 2013
  13. Its sad that it will be many generations, maybe centuries before we know. When I was younger I was very excited about someday reading about our first explorations under the ice but the more I learned about Europa, the more I realized what a daunting engineering challenge it is. Considering it takes teams of men and woman years to drill through the ice at Antarctic lakes, it would be a staggering feat of engineering to build a craft capable of drilling through miles and miles of Ice that is probably as hard as rock. Not to mention designing a craft that would be able to survive the cold and radiation for the years that it would likely take to break though. But I think the most daunting challenge would be the budget. Its unlikely that any space agency would get enough funding for such a project.

    Then again this is all based on our current state of affairs, who knows, in a few decades we might experience another golden age of space exploration and maybe we will get to know our solar system a lot more intimately.
  14. I hate being pessimistic, but I don't think so. What are the odds of two objects in the same star system to have life? If that really is true, than life is much more common than we think. Water has been found in several moons or dwarf planets (Ganymedes, Ceres, etc).

    I say no, but an expedition to Europa would definately be worth it.
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