Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Intelligent Life on Europa Speculation

  1. Mar 18, 2012 #1
    Europa, one of Jupiter's large moons, is predicted to have a salty ocean beneath its icy surface. This ocean is expected to have more liquid water than the oceans of Earth have. Virtually every place on Earth that we find liquid water we find at least microbial life. Based on this it seems likely that some form of life could exist on Europa.

    Of course, jumping from "there's a good chance there might be life" to "let's consider intelligent life" is a huge leap, but I'm mostly just bringing this up for fun speculation. As unlikely as it might be, the idea of intelligent life in that ocean is a interesting thought. It seems possible a species could actually become fairly advanced without ever seeing a star. Humans have had the luxury of being able to look up into the sky and see other planets and stars. If it just got colder and more dangerous the father you got from the center of the world and it just was dark off in that direction with no apparent goal to be seen, it might not seem very worth while to explore in that direction. Especially if you eventually reached the ice. A first assumption in this situation might just be that the water goes on forever, it just gets cold enough that it's solid from here on out. From this you could advance in other ways without any knowledge of astronomy.

    Anywho, I know that this is a kind of ridiculous topic, but ridiculous things can be very entertaining.

    My first question about this is why might this idea not work at all? I like to find out when my random ideas are completely infeasible for one reason or another.

    Secondly, what interesting thoughts can you add to this random thought?

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2012 #2
    The oceans of Europa might be too acidic according to a recent analysis. Which is sad because it seems like such a cool possibility for life to exist there.
  4. Mar 18, 2012 #3
    Perhaps this is a little too speculative to be in accordance with PF rules...

    I guess I should probably delete it.
  5. Mar 18, 2012 #4
    Or perhaps I don't have such an option readily available.
  6. Mar 19, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The idea is neither ridiculous nor overly speculative, as otherwise NASA would not have a mission to Europa.
    http://opfm.jpl.nasa.gov/europajupitersystemmissionejsm/ [Broken]

    I can only add that we should praise and fund NASA, and settle for nothing less than the facts.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Mar 19, 2012 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    The NS article talks of pH 2.6. There are organisms on earth that live normally at pH1. Moreover they've been around for a long time as the name of many of them - archeobacteria - implies. Ideas of what are the ranges of conditions supporting life have expanded considerably over the past couple of decades.

    Google extremophiles.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  8. Mar 19, 2012 #7
    Well that doesn't have to be a eliminating factor? Scientists found microorganisms in a toxic lake in California and I also read about something similiar happening in Siberia. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.

    Quoting a NASA article http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/dec/HQ_10-320_Toxic_Life.html
    "The definition of life has just expanded," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it."

    Let me know if I'm completely out sailing here about the possibilities for life as we do not know it, in a ocean being acidic.
  9. Mar 19, 2012 #8
    It's generally believed the conditions on the early earth at the time the first living systems developed (replicators with some minimal metabolic capability) would have been quite toxic to the vast majority of terrestrial living systems today. The early oceans were acidic and free oxygen was virtually absent. The earliest bacteria were anaerobic. So it's still quite reasonable to consider the possibility of primitive life in the ocean of Europa.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook