Europa’s potential to support life may have increased by geographical observations. Reuters Note researchers have discovered similarities between the double ridges on the surface of the Jovian moon and the smaller-scale equivalents in Greenland. As the Greenland ridges were formed by subsurface water freezing, this suggests that Europa’s partners formed in a similar way. That, in turn, would indicate a large amount of liquid water needed to support life similar to that on Earth.
The geographical features are not only common on Europa, but are also large enough that the pockets of water for these ridges are about the same size as North America’s Lake Erie. They are also relatively shallow (about 0.6 miles below the surface), placing them close to other chemicals that could have helped form life.
There is as yet no direct sign of life on Europa, and likely won’t be for long. NASA is launching Europa Clipper spacecraft in 2024, but it won’t reach orbit until 2030. Even so, comparing Greenland strengthens the case for investigating Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon. It suggests that at least some conditions are suitable for life, even if factors like extreme cold (up to -260F at the equator) limit what’s possible.
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