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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Extreme Shrimps and Ocean Worlds

Extreme Shrimps and Ocean Worlds

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, May 13, 2019/Categories: natural history, video, space science, environment

                                                        Black Smoker and Extremophiles (credit: NOAA)

The deep oceans are the subject of great environmental interest. We're still 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 there? Researchers at Caltech, JPL, and elsewhere have been pondering these questions of exobiology.

Jupiter's ice-moon Europa has a suspected ocean with more water than on Earth It is an obvious exploration target of the Europa Clipper mission which will launch in a couple of yeats. JPL has produced two videos that showcase some of their thinking.

What sort of life might be discovered on Europa? Are there analogous organisms here on Earth 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 containing dissolved gasses and chemicals, the stuff of life. Entire ecosystems have evolved along these zones harboring alien-like creatures that may represent the first life on Earth. Archaic bacteria, pink tube-shaped worms, and blind extreme shrimp flock around these hydrothermal vents known as black smokers. Using deep-diving robots, such extremophiles could offer several Earth analogues to what evolution may have produced on Europa.

It will be exciting to watch the adventurous Europa mission as it unfold. That will be one of the greatest pieces of space and biological once the icy moon is pierced by robotic sensors, lights, and cameras.



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