Postulating Life on Jupiter's moon Europa

In summary: It has been tested and found to be accurate in many ways. Your story is scientifically plausible, but I think it would be a better idea to focus on the story rather than the science. If you want to include evolution, be sure to provide a good justification for it and make sure it is a major part of the story. What do you think?
  • #1
Strato Incendus
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Even an offhanded remark by some character in a sci-fi story can have major implications.
With my story based on a generation ship in the late 25th century, I considered it self-evident that humanity would already have explored most of the planets and moons within the solar system before trying to leave it. (The only exception being Planet 9, which, if it exists, should be located over 250 AUs from the sun.)

In her opening speech in chapter one, the commander of the ship currently states that no alien life has been found yet, aside from a few single-cell organisms on the Jovian moon Europa. While this probably sounds dismissive to the casual sci-fi reader, who is probably implicitly hoping for intelligent humanoid life forms whenever the question of aliens is brought up, even something as little as single-cell organisms on another celestial body within our own solar system would carry major implications for the rest of the galaxy. Among others, that life would be pretty common in the universe.

The main reason for including this claim in the opening chapter is that, once the ship arrives at its destination (Teegarden b) in the third book, that planet does feature some life, as well. (Not humanoid aliens, though; rather, it is stuck in a prehistoric time period, because neither has Teegarden's Star gone through a lot of change, nor have there been any recent meteorite impacts.)

However, the crew should already know this, since you would obviously send unmanned probes to an exoplanet before attempting to send humans there. Still, if they were both the first people to set foot on an exoplanet AND the first ones to encounter alien life, that would be quite a lot for one story. That's why I tried to "front-load" the discovery of alien life, almost downplaying it. What would be a major revelation to any of us alive today, for people in the 25th century, single-cell organisms in the oceans of Europa would be nothing to write home about.

And yet, because of the implications this would carry for other planets and moons, both within and outside the solar system, I'm conflicted about whether or not I should include this side remark by the commander in the opening speech.
If I remove it, though, that would mean the landing on the surface of Teegarden b in my story would simultaneously converge with the first face-to-face encounter with alien life. Which would be a little too much for my liking, and also rather clichéd, in my book (literally). :wink:

What do you think? Postulating simple life forms on Europa in a sci-fi story, yay or nay?
 
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  • #2
Strato Incendus said:
What do you think?
I think there is too much bolding in this post.
 
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  • #3
Whatever you choose, there should be a sound justification of it from other aspects of your story. If you assume evolution (abiogenesis), while the scientific community and the world might embrace it, the scientific method gives no foundation for that whatsoever (for apparently no experiment possible can falsify the abiogenesis myth enough for scientists to accept their failure). That's no problem nowadays for getting famous, it appears (to the contrary), but if you want to be realistic, an accidental transport of microbes on a space satellite launched by an unethical space research company does better.
 
  • #4
Strato Incendus said:
What do you think? Postulating simple life forms on Europa in a sci-fi story, yay or nay?
No harm with it, but might be useful to cut some unnecessary corners and explain attitude when they arrive on the new planet.
Just don't get carried away. If it's no focus then don't put it into focus.
 
  • #5
Strato Incendus said:
What do you think? Postulating simple life forms on Europa in a sci-fi story, yay or nay?
It's fine. If you end up being wrong no one is going to care because it is fiction. If you end up being right no one is going to care because it's fiction. :wink:
 
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  • #6
Structure seeker said:
Whatever you choose, there should be a sound justification of it from other aspects of your story. If you assume evolution (abiogenesis), while the scientific community and the world might embrace it, the scientific method gives no foundation for that whatsoever (for apparently no experiment possible can falsify the abiogenesis myth enough for scientists to accept their failure).
I think you have a serious misunderstanding about how science and the scientific method works. Falsifiability, while desirable, is not a necessity for something to be taken serious by scientists. Some things just can't be falsified due to a variety of possible reasons.

A better way to judge things is to ask how accurately the proposed model or theory predicts reality. The better model or theory will be the one that most accurately predicts what we can observe and/or test. Falsifiability doesn't really matter in this viewpoint. A more accurate model is still a more accurate model.

Evolution and abiogenesis both make testable and observable predictions that are verified all the time. There simply isn't another scientific explanation that does a better job.
 
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  • #7
Let's discuss that somewhere else and another time. In short, the "what else can it be?" argument doesn't satisfy me.
 
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  • #8
Thanks for your thoughts! :smile:

I guess I am still a bit hesitant about including this side remark in the first chapter. But luckily, I still have time to contemplate that, since the book is nowhere near finished yet, and it’s literally just a single sentence in the first chapter.

The more important part is certainly what the crew thinks about the kind of life that the unmanned probes on Teegarden b must already have confirmed at this point in the story — otherwise, the ship wouldn’t even be on its way there to begin with.
 

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