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 How Deep Must Life Hide to be Safe on Europa?

Considered one of the best potential sources for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, Europa may hide life in the ocean deep beneath the moon's icy crust. Some organisms could even travel to the surface through cracks and instabilities in the crust. But radiation from Jupiter's magnetosphere constantly douses the tiny moon and could annihilate life at shallow depths, making it difficult to detect with an orbiter or lander. A group of scientists are seeking to experimentally determine just how deep organic life needs to hide on Europa in order to avoid being destroyed.
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The ocean underneath the icy shell of Jupiter's moon Europa might be too acidic to support life, due to compounds that may regularly migrate downward from its surface, researchers say.
Researchers have proposed missions to penetrate Europa's outer shell to look for life in its ocean, although others have suggested that Europa could harbour fossils of marine life right on the surface for prospectors to find, given how water apparently regularly gets pushed up from below.
However, chemicals found on the surface of Europa might jeopardise any chances of life evolving there, scientists find.

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Europa's Hidden Lakes

Europa, which is slightly smaller than Earth's moon, is thought to have an iron core, a rocky mantle and an ocean of salty water beneath its frozen surface.



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EUROPA LAKE Nasa 'discovers' liquid water on Jupiter moon



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New evidence of water in solar system

Scientists studying the solar system say they have found the best evidence of water out there.
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NASA Probe Data Show Evidence Of Liquid Water On Icy Europa
 
Data from a NASA planetary mission have provided scientists evidence of what appears to be a body of liquid water, equal in volume to the North American Great Lakes, beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa.
The data suggest there is significant exchange between Europa's icy shell and the ocean beneath. This information could bolster arguments that Europa's global subsurface ocean represents a potential habitat for life elsewhere in our solar system. The findings are published in the scientific journal Nature.

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Scientists Find Evidence for "Great Lake" on Europa and Potential New Habitat for Life

In a significant finding in the search for life beyond Earth, scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere have discovered what appears to be a body of liquid water the volume of the North American Great Lakes locked inside the icy shell of Jupiter's moon Europa.
The water could represent a potential habitat for life, and many more such lakes might exist throughout the shallow regions of Europa's shell, lead author Britney Schmidt, a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Geophysics, writes in the journal Nature.
Further increasing the potential for life, the newly discovered lake is covered by floating ice shelves that seem to be collapsing, providing a mechanism for transferring nutrients and energy between the surface and a vast ocean already inferred to exist below the thick ice shell.

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Liquid lakes close to moon's skin

Scientists have found the best evidence yet for water just beneath the surface of Jupiter's icy moon, Europa.
Analysis of the moon's surface suggests plumes of warmer water well up beneath its icy shell, melting and fracturing the outer layers.
The results, published in the journal Nature, predict that small lakes exist only 3km below the crust.

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Strange domes on Europa formed on thin ice

Jupiter's icy moon Europa is pockmarked by curious domes and depressions. How they formed has been a mystery, but now it seems they are areas where liquid water once appeared close to the surface.
Europa is thought to harbour a salt-water ocean, sandwiched between a 20-kilometre-thick layer of surface ice and a rocky core below. For clues as to what might be happening there, Britney Schmidt of the University of Texas, Austin, and colleagues looked at studies of subglacial volcanoes and ice shelves on Earth. They concluded that ice rising from the bottom of Europa's surface layer created its 300-metre-high "chaos terrains".

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NASA Hosting Science Update About Jupiter's Icy Moon Europa
 
News media are invited to interview NASA Planetary Scientist Jeff Moore in addition to viewing a live televised broadcast of a Science Update from NASA Headquarters about new theories concerning Jupiter's moon at 10 a.m. PST on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
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