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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Extreme Shrimps and Ocean Worlds

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, November 24, 2014/Categories: natural history, video, space science, environment

Oceans are the subject of great interest. We know a few things about our own 'water world' but what if there may be another, even more vast ocean somewhere else? How could it be investigated and how would you know if there was life?

Researchers at Caltech, JPL, and elsewhere have been pondering these questions of exo-biology. Jupiter's ice-moon, Europa, and its suspected ocean with more water than here on Earth, is the obvious exploration target. JPL has produced two videos that showcase some of their thinking.

What sort of life might be on Europa? Are there analogous organisms here that might provide insight into what may exist there?

In the depths of the Earth's oceans, where the continental plates collide in complete darkness, fissures erupt with boiling water that contains dissolved gasses and chemicals, the stuff of life. Entire ecosystems have evolved along these zones harboring alien-looking creatures that may have been the first life on Earth. Archaic bacteria, pink tube-shaped worms, and blind extreme shrimps flock around these hydrothermal vents or black smokers  . Using deep-diving robots, such  extremophiles  could offer some Earth analogues to what evolution may have produced on Europa.

It will be exciting to watch the exploratory process unfold. That will be one of the greatest bits adventure once Europa's is pierced by robotic sensors, lights, and cameras.


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