Tides and the Biosphere of Europa
The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and affiliates.
If you are an active member, affiliate or individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article. Be sure you've entered your member or subscriber number on your profile page. (You can access your profile page through the green box to the right.)
If you are not a member, affiliate or individual subscriber, you can:
It's been suspected for at least a decade now that Jupiter's icy moon Europa harbors a global ocean of liquid water beneath its crust. To many scientists the presence of another ocean in our solar system immediately conjured up images of extraterrestrial lifeforms swimming in an alien sea. But what sorts of life could evolve in the dark waters of a subsurface ocean, and how would it derive the energy it needs to survive? Planetary scientist, Richard Greenberg has been studying the surface features of Europa, and he finds that the icy crust that covers the ocean may not be as thick as scientists had at first supposed. Cracks in Europa's surface suggest that the ocean waters may come very close to the surface. If so, the cracks themselves may provide a niche for life, and the light near the surface of the moon could provide energy for photosynthetic organisms.