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Life-Bearing Lake Possible On Icy Jupiter Moon

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the how's-the-fishing dept.

Space 112

astroengine writes "New research shows the jumbled ice blocks crowning the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa are signs of large liquid lakes below, a key finding in the search for places where life might exist beyond Earth. Drawing from studies of underground volcanoes in Iceland and Antarctica, scientists ran computer models to see if the chaotic formations on Europa's surface could be explained by the same geologic processes seen on Earth. It turns out that not only could this be further evidence for a sub-surface ocean, but also a mechanism that mixes ice and water, circulating nutrients and energy to get from the frozen surface to the ocean below."

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112 comments

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS (5, Funny)

martas (1439879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078308)

EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE

slashdot filter doesn't get sci fi references... i am disappoint.

Re:ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078376)

you beat me to it, you insensitive clod!

Re:ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078380)

No wonder the Euro is about to crash.

Re:ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38078538)

My god! It's full of stars!

Say hello to your new Europa overlords.

Re:ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS (3, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078550)

CmdrTaco took his monolith with him. That's why slashfilter had context recognition fail.

"My God, it's full of trolls!"

Re:ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS (1)

zzottt (629458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38080270)

this almost cost me a keyboard you insensitive clod!

If only we had a space program ... (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078994)

All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landing there.

If only we had a space program that would warrant such a warning.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079096)

Mod parent +5, depressing.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38081256)

Mod parent -1, Back Seat Modder

Re:If only we had a space program ... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38079548)

If only we didn't know space is an empty, hostile cold vacuum, enormous and deadly. Seriously, what is it with you geeks and your constant moaning about the "space program"? It's over. It's as dead as the coal locomotive. I don't hear anyone moaning about the death of the 19th century rail system. We moved on. You should too. Space is too big, and our technology too small. Everything indicates that physics itself is stacked against the kind of fictional "space program" you geeks keep crying about. It won't happen. Ever. You geeks keep glossing over the stupendous complexity of doing anything more than tossing small probes and putting people in Low Earth orbit. So what?

What do you think is out there that's so important? All the elements of the periodic table are on Earth too, you know. There's nothing out there that we don't have on Earth. And don't give me this tired, feeble "because it's there" nonsense. The limits of physics and our engineering are also "there".

I don't see anyone rooting for life extension, but we should choose to do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard. That's what the future os going to be. We'll be exploring the small, not the large. We'll be exploring the complexity of life processes and extending our lifespan. It's already happened. It's going to keep happening. Offices on the Moon? Never. Ever. EVER.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38079764)

What do you think is out there that's so important? All the elements of the periodic table are on Earth too, you know. There's nothing out there that we don't have on Earth. And don't give me this tired, feeble "because it's there" nonsense. The limits of physics and our engineering are also "there".

There's more of them out there than there are on Earth.

I don't see anyone rooting for life extension, but we should choose to do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard. That's what the future os going to be.

And unless you're proposing the genocide of multiple billions of people, we're going to need extraplanetary resources if you ever get your wish for extended lifespans. As long as manufacturing and industry remain tied to this ball of rock, you're going to die of old age, QA.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38082062)

"There's more of them out there than there are on Earth. "

You're glossing over the stupendous distance and complexity of getting them back here. If we DID have the technology and resources to go and mine space, we don't HAVE a resource problem!

"And unless you're proposing the genocide of multiple billions of people,"

That's all you see? We're going to have to adapt and change our culture and lifestyle in the face of very real physical and technological limits. Scary, huh? But we'll HAVE to do it, not because it is easy, but BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE A CHOICE. Sorry, space won't save us. We're on one planet, and that's all we'll ever have.

No amount of dreaming, wishful thinking, quoting sci-fi and referring to Space Age delusions will change that. As you noted, we are 7 billion. How many people habe even been on the Moon? How do you propose space will change a single thing at all for anyone? Makes no sense. Again, you're ignoring the very real limits of our techology, glossing over the terrible problems of space and completely ignoring the coming revolutions in biology and social models.

The world will pass you by and flatten you, and your 1960s delusions, like a steamroller over eggs.

Adapt to reality, or ignore it.

Your call, Space Nutter.

"ball of rock"

Ah yes, the calling card of the juvenile mind of the childish Space Nutter. Tell me, what are the other planets made of? Rocks are OK if they're in space? The Earth is in space too.

Idiot.

"you're going to die of old age, QA."

And in ten years, you and I will still be here, and I'll have exceeded the average life span of what most humans could have expected before the 20th century. So tell me, what's more likely? That we'll keep extending useful life span, or suddenly have orbiting McDonald's?

Are you still capable of coherent thought anymore?

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38085710)

In a few weeks I'm going to get on a plane and travel further in a day than anyone prior to Magellan had traveled in a decade. Do you think that we've suddenly reached the ultimate capability of transportation systems and it's now impossible that they will ever get any better? Which is more likely, that we do not currently know everything possible about physics and advances are still possible, or that you'll find the philosopher's stone and live forever?

Why am I even bothering to answer an AC? Just because I loathe Luddites, I guess.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (5, Insightful)

paulmac84 (682014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079826)

I'll bite. Some of us like to push the boundaries of what is thought possible. Some of us would like to see for ourselves what it is like outside the Earth's gravity well. The space program has pushed forward our technology in too many ways to list here. Why shouldn't we continue to push forward those boundaries? No one denies that it isn't difficult or complex, but in trying to attempt the impossible we learn more about our world and the universe we inhabit. On one hand you argue that space is too big and our technology too small, and then you argue that we should root for life extension not because it is easy but because it is hard. Sounds to me that you make the same argument for life extension as you do for not having a space program. I also find it ironic that you quote JFK from a speech he gave about going to the moon.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

neverbeeninariot (415053) | more than 2 years ago | (#38084100)

" Let's get this food, water and population thing sorted out first. Then we can go and explore space..."

~W.M.Hicks

Re:If only we had a space program ... (4, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079904)

I don't know whether or not your predictions are correct, but as a scientist and engineer, I CAN say that I would never want to work with you. You may think spouting such vile nonsense is beneficial, but all it does is show how small-minded you are. Here's an idea, why don't we pursue both space exploration and the medical technology you mentioned. There's plenty of resources to do so... we could find ample funding for both if the "defense" budgets of the world were cut a few percent.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38079914)

Anyone else reading the above rant think of Lord Kelvin declaring "Heavier than air flying machines are impossible" eight years before the Wright brothers proved him wrong?

I'm sick to death of these people who seem to worship the idea of our vision being permanently turned inward, patiently twiddling our thumbs till an ELE comes and wipes us out.

  "There's nothing out there that we don't have on Earth". How'd you figure that one out? Have you been all around that enormous deadly yet fascinating universe that's out there? The idea that anything and everything we could ever want or know is all on this tiny speck of a planet within the practically limitless size of the universe is just ridiculous.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38080156)

One reason to leave Earth and to continue to develop the technologies and competencies to do so: The long term survival of the human race. No matter how much of your "small" (though not unimportant) explorations take place, the fact remains that humanity and all of human history could be wiped out of existence at any time. The threat is incredibly small, but the consequences are enormous. Only the ability to live sustainably beyond Earth (no easy task, I admit) separates our fate from that of our planet. Therefore continued development of our abilities in that area deserve attention.

There are certainly worse things to spend time and money on...

Re:If only we had a space program ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38080230)

Life extension essentially requires additional resources and living space. Both of these will require humanity venturing into space. Unless of course your life extension is marginal or only for the richest of the rich.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38080286)

You're mostly right. Earth is obviously where it's at. It has a massive carrying capacity for human life, and NOWHERE ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE HAS. Even if we made colonies elsewhere somehow, they wouldn't be able to aid each other (or the Earth) in terms of material resources, and communication between colonies would be VERY slow, for practical purposes, even within our own solar system. Also, if an extinction event hits Earth, the existence of colonies isn't going to help a single earthling to survive. OK, maybe a few very rich and/or powerful people. Whoop-de-do.

I still think that a space program of some sort is worth it though, for the scientific and technological advancement that comes from it. However, the speed of light and other physical constraints probably make anything too sci-fi impossible. Iain Banks et al spin a pleasant fantasy, but... ever heard of the Fermi Paradox?

Re:If only we had a space program ... (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38081960)

Earth is obviously where it's at. It has a massive carrying capacity for human life, and NOWHERE ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE HAS

Prove that, please.

Or do you mean nowhere else that we know of?

Because those are two *VERY* different things.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38083950)

Eggs. Basket.

Let me introduce you to what can be called the "Garden World Imperative." Right now, and for a considerable future, the Earth is the only garden world, that may change, but at the moment, it is true. This means that resource extraction, the mineral resources you talk about, has to occur within the context of protecting the garden world, and having fall back in case of failure. Even today many resource extraction activities, including the burning of carbon, damage the very stability of the garden world.

This means that even if various elements are on earth in relative abundance, the cost of extracting them, while protecting the garden world's equilibrium within parameters that we prefer, is going to get more expensive rapidly. Right now this is masked by the willingness of many countries to spill out externalities, both in the present and in the future, in order to get the technology and capital to develop. However, much of China's arable land is contaminated, and chunks of Japan are about to be off limits for farming because of Daichi. Space is someplace where these extraction and processing events can be done, with much lower risk and damage.

So the most precious earth resource is the gaia stability it has, the other resources are going to rapidly be more expensive than they are marginally worth, because of the risk that extraction causes. That is ultimate economic reason we are going to go into space: because eventually it will be cheaper to use magnetic propulsion to ship materials back to Earth, than it will be to either reduce waste in their creation, or reduce their use on earth. Already there is a massive increase in the intrusiveness of government in ordinary lives, and it is driven in part because at the moment it is cheaper to create a virtual police state, than it is to reach out into space. However, this is a false calculation, because the return on a virtual police state is negative, and what is more, it is a increasingly negative curve –not just a negative slope, but a negative curvature. On the converse space exploration has positive returns that keep getting larger over time.
The cross over point is coming, and what is more, it will be a rapid phase change. One day the international corporate-sovereign system of resource rents and capital oligopolies is running along, if not optimally, and soon there afterwards riots, depletions, economic collapse, and social withdrawal make it impossible to maintain. This has happened before: Europe didn't being exploring and conquering the world because things were great back home. New worlds to conquer often happens when the old ones can not bear the strain.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38080398)

What do you think is out there that's so important?

Space. Elbow room. Infinite amounts of it.

All the elements of the periodic table are on Earth too, you know

Not necessarily... there may exist natural elements in other environments that are not found anywhere in this solar system. All we know is that for the elements we've discovered so far, there are no gaps. There may also be previously undiscovered isotopes of elements that we do know about.

There's nothing out there that we don't have on Earth.

This is provably false. Several previously unknown minerals were discovered on the moon, for instance.

And don't give me this tired, feeble "because it's there" nonsense.

It's only nonsense if you have no spirit of adventure. How sad for you.

The limits of physics and our engineering are also "there".

Citation please.

I don't see anyone rooting for life extension, but we should choose to do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

Kennedy said almost word-for-word the exact same thing about going to the moon in the sixties. I'm not sure if that was deliberate or not.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

jschen (1249578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38080874)

All the elements of the periodic table are on Earth too, you know

Not necessarily... there may exist natural elements in other environments that are not found anywhere in this solar system. All we know is that for the elements we've discovered so far, there are no gaps. There may also be previously undiscovered isotopes of elements that we do know about.

I am all for space exploration, but we know about all isotopes from right here on earth. From right here on earth, we can study stable isotopes, isotopes so light that their half lives are fractionths of a second, and isotopes so heavy that their half lives are fractionths of a second. Isotopic abundances will vary by location, but the properties of the individual isotopes will be the same.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (0)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38080908)

but we know about all isotopes from right here on earth

Unless you possess omniscience, or or claiming that earth scientists do, I'd put money on you being wrong about that.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38083766)

We can actually produce more isotopes in the lab than you will find in "space" since many are unstable. We do know the properties of all isotopes with a longish half life because we have physical samples of the stuff to measure these properties. We have a very good idea of the properties of the rest, but given that they last fractions of second or less, they aren't useful for engineering anyway.

This is not UFO: Enemy Unknown. There is no Elerium-115 or otherwise.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (5, Informative)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38081042)

Hows that laboratory study of dark matter going, then? There's so much we don't understand - like 80% of the mass of the universe!

Re:If only we had a space program ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38083446)

Wrong. There's just way too much arrogance in today's theoretical physicists.
P1: Hey, our measurements of the universe are nothing like your theories predict.
TP: Then your measurements are wrong!
P2-5: Nope, their measurements are correct. We checked.
TP: Then the universe is wrong! Our theories are never wrong!

There is no "dark" anything crap. Their theories are wrong. Which has already been shown for "dark matter", and it's only a matter of time before it"s shown for "dark energy" too.

But it should not be required to disprove theories that are already disproven by all measurements showing something completely different.
It's sad that we are in times, when even the scientific community runs behind such bullshit. It's as ignorant and egocentric, as the churches. And everybody acts like it's perfectly normal, and like it's scientific.

Einstein, Heisenberg, Feynman, etc would turn in their graves.

But I'll probably get modded down for blasphemy, or for the crime of preferring to post anonymously.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38081174)

What the hell are fractionths? Wewease Wodewick!

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38082698)

What do you think is out there that's so important?

Space. Elbow room. Infinite amounts of it.

I keep hearing that. And yet nobody seems to do the math: we have 7 billion people on this planet. How are we going to ship them off fast enough to create elbow room? It can't be done.

Of course, you might say 'elbow room' for those lucky enough to be able to migrate to space. In which case you're advocating elbow room for the privileged only. This might be practical, but hardly a view that most people would think deserves respect.

Mart

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38084522)

Actually, if we are talking colonization, it is far more likely that NON privileged people will go first.

Why?

Hazards. Space is a dangerous place to go, and off-world colonization almost as dangerous as space itself. Why would the powerful and privileged leave the relative comfort of their lives here when they could just pay lots of other people to risk their lives building up new worlds?

Yes, some space tourism and expensive luxury "space hotels" may be built to serve wealthy clients, but I really don't see many George Soros or Koch Brother types deciding to just chuck it all here and take off for the stars. Far more likely they will FINANCE the trip via an investment group and then hire a crapload of poor/middle class people to take the real risks.

Of course, these people, in addition to taking the risks would also stand to reap huge benefits and end up moderately wealthy themselves if the mission was successful. That's the point. Otherwise who would go beyond some scientists in it for pure science reasons?

Personally, if I wasn't 40 already and responsible for a family I would absolutely sign up. I'm not poor, but I'm as much an entrepreneur as the next guy and space holds lots of opportunity once our technology is up to snuff.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38084888)

Personally, if I wasn't 40 already and responsible for a family I would absolutely sign up. I'm not poor, but I'm as much an entrepreneuras the next guy and space holds lots of opportunity once our technology is up to snuff.

Yeah, let's ship a load of conmen, salesmen and bullshit artists into space, that will guarantee everything goes well.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38085486)

Yeah, let's ship a load of conmen, salesmen and bullshit artists into space, that will guarantee everything goes well.

Wow. I spend quite a fair amount of time online, and it's been awhile since I've seen such a brazen display of complete ignorance about a fundamental characteristic of human nature. I mean, that was just breathtaking.

Frankly, I far more trust the future of humanity in space to your average guy that wants to stake a claim and start a business (IE: an entrepreneur) than I ever would to a government bureaucrat flunky.

Space will be won and owned by Capitalists. Mostly because Marxists and Big Govt. types will never be able to see the value in it beyond propaganda.

You want to know what our future in space will be? It won't be Star Trek and it won't be Star Wars. It'll be Firefly. Businessmen and ordinary people going out and selling Coke, Marlboros and Big Macs to the Aliens and staking claims on empty planets, moons and asteroids to make their fortune. Count on it.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38085104)

Yes, it's deliberate. This idiot troll posts essentially the same thing every time there's any space-related thread. If he gets a little more wound up he'll start calling every non-Luddite a 'space nutter'. He's pretty passionate about the whole thing, I really don't understand why. I get the feeling that you could take him up to LEO in a space elevator and he'd still claim that the exploration of space was impossible. I wish he didn't post as AC so that I could find out if he's one of the 'Apollo landings were faked' loonies.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38085750)

GEO, not LEO.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

meglon (1001833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38082766)

Apparently geeks have more balls to try something difficult. The tragedy of the human species is worthless wimps that want to hold the species back get a free ride when the people with balls (aka: geeks) push the boundaries forward. No, i don't actually consider myself a geek... probably more a geek sympathizer. What i am is anti-worthless lazy anachronistic leeches populating the buttocks of humanity.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38084590)

I agree. Also, I think that 640k should be enough for anyone.

Re:If only we had a space program ... (1, Insightful)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079712)

Ya know I imagine if some alien entity put a giant message telling us not to land on a certain planet that's the first place NASA would go...

Re:ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38080160)

slashdot filter doesn't get sci fi references... i am disappoint.

Slashdot doesn't contain serious discussion about science any more, just tired old memes. I'm also disappointed.

Re:ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38085144)

Yo, dude, check your capslock key!

It's still no planet Hoth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38078316)

Life on an Icy world or not, if there are no tontons, I'm not interested.

Re:It's still no planet Hoth (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078378)

Life on an Icy world or not, if there are no tontons, I'm not interested.

Yeah, nothing like curling up inside a good, warm gutted tonton on a colde night.

It's life, Jim (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078356)

But not as we know it.

Re:It's life, Jim (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078672)

You're sure, huh? You know, we only have evidence of life happening one time and in one place. If there is indeed no life on Europa and it does indeed have the conditions thought necessary for life to form, we might have to ponder the possibility that life is incredibly rare. I suspect that life is, in fact, incredibly rare.

In other words, it's dead, Jim.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078750)

You're sure, huh? You know, we only have evidence of life happening one time and in one place. If there is indeed no life on Europa and it does indeed have the conditions thought necessary for life to form, we might have to ponder the possibility that life is incredibly rare. I suspect that life is, in fact, incredibly rare.

In other words, it's dead, Jim.

Well, there's the Goldilocks concept, effective for carbon and water based life, such as we have on Earth. The idea there could be protein molecules formed in different ways isn't quite new, so we'd really need a specimen to examine to see if anything looks like it might be an life form with an alternate chemistry. Speculation that threre could be life is far more interesting than confirming there isn't any life anywhere else.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079104)

The parameters of the Goldilocks concept are being expanded as scientists find more examples of life on this planet under conditions originally thought to be too extreme to support life: The deep ocean (no sunlight for photosynthesis but chemosynthesis can occur), the frigid Antarctic (organisms should freeze but produce their own anti-freeze), and high temperature vents (organism should be cooked to death but are not).

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

FunkSoulBrother (140893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079728)

Don't all of those extremophiles (that we know of, on Earth), generally start out as more mundane organisms living in less extreme conditions? Then through process of evolution, some of them adapt to to the extreme conditions in which they eventually are thrust or spread to?

I have a hard time believing life can get started independently in those sorts of extreme environments without having someplace slightly more nurturing to get a foothold. Heck, look at humans, we can survive in space due to all the neat tools we build with our brains and thumbs, but this took a lot of steps to get there -- it doesn't mean we should start looking to outer space as a likely zone for life to be found.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38082268)

The question is probability. In ideal conditions life has a better chance to develop; in extreme conditions it has less of chance. The existence of extremophiles show that under certain conditions is it possible to survive. Also remember conditions change. The early Earth was more hostile to life than the current Earth.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38083228)

Don't all of those extremophiles (that we know of, on Earth), generally start out as more mundane organisms living in less extreme conditions? Then through process of evolution, some of them adapt to to the extreme conditions in which they eventually are thrust or spread to?

Perhaps, but not necessarily. When life first appeared on Earth, the planet was hotter, more volcanic, had more greenhouse gasses and no free oxygen. It would have been more or less completely toxic to almost all life that currently exists on Earth (except for a few of the extremophiles).

It's easy to think of modern day Earth as the "perfect" environment for life- but that's only because it's the environment we're evolved to thrive in. If we were built to thrive in another environment, our current environment might seem like hell. If you take one of those deep water volcanic organisms and try putting it in a temperate, freshwater lake, it'd be dead in no time.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38085242)

When life was getting its start its metabolism would have been extremely inefficient at first. I personally think that some of these extreme environments might have been better cradles because of the amount of excess energy available. Also, if you look underground they've found microorganisms of one type or other at some really extreme depths. Compare the volume of available space, the amount of available energy, and the variety of available chemicals in just the first kilometer below the surface, and compare it to the area of coastal tidal pools normally associated with the origin of life. Many orders of magnitude more possible environments below the surface. I would not be surprised to eventually see the search for the origin of life go underground.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38084970)

The idea there could be protein molecules formed in different ways isn't quite new

We could come across life, even intelligent life, that's so strange that we won't even recognize it as being alive.

Re:It's life, Jim (4, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079152)

If but one in a billion planets has life, there is a LOT of life out there.

Re:It's life, Jim (2)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079948)

Aye, if we happen to find two objects in this solar system that contain life then life is quite prolific everywhere.

Re:It's life, Jim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38081358)

Perhaps not - if we find life that uses the same chemistry and genetic coding system, it's far more likely that there was seeding between planets. If however the chemistry and coding system was different, your hypothesis would hold.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38085702)

If but one in a billion planets has life, there is a LOT of life out there.

And that one in a billion figure comes from...out of your bottom..

Although I'm sure there is life elsewhere in the universe, you can't just make up an impressively small sounding percentage then apply it to the even more impressively big number that is the number of planets in the universe.

I might just as well say there are approximately a billion billion billion planets (or whateer the number is) but the probability of life on any one is one in a billion billion billion, therefore we are that one planet.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079394)

Incorrect.

"In other words, I suspect that it's dead, Jim"

Fixed that for you.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079484)

Assuming "1 out of 2" is synonymous with "incredibly rare".

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079626)

Well, you could equally well say we've found life on 1/9 (or 1/8, depending on Pluto) planets in the solar system with a few satellites as bonus chances. It's not exactly like we've studied all that many. If we say those planets are a random sampling - which is an approximation - there should be
more than a billion planets in the Milky Way alone that are closer to Earth than any non-Earth environment in this solar system. So even if we conclusively find there's no life here, that doesn't really say much for the universe. It's also a game of big numbers, if we find one in a trillion planets have life there's still more than a billion planets with life. They're just spread across a mindbogglingly large universe.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38082534)

You're sure, huh? You know, we only have evidence of life happening one time and in one place. If there is indeed no life on Europa and it does indeed have the conditions thought necessary for life to form, we might have to ponder the possibility that life is incredibly rare. I suspect that life is, in fact, incredibly rare.

In other words, it's dead, Jim.

Can I disagree here? We have a sample size of 1 right now- no other planet has been investigated well enough to give a yes/no answer.

We know that life on the Earth formed *very* early in the planet's history- we have records back ~3.5 GYA, and it's quite possibly a lot older than that since the limiting factor is finding rocks that haven't been changed so much they would destroy any records. Given that water on Earth only dates to 4.3 GYA, we're probably talking a few hundred million years for life, starting from scratch. To me that implies it's nowhere near as hard as a complex cell- eukaryotes took something like 1.5 billion years to form after the start of life. (~2 GYA) Once you get past that barrier, you have another ~1.4 billion years until you start to see recognizable stuff in the Cambrian- after that evolution takes off and you go from trilobites to everything on earth today in ~600 Myears

My guess is that once we start getting real samples from outside the Earth, either via physical probes or spectroscopy of distant planets we're going to find lots of life.

It's just all going to be algae.

Re:It's life, Jim (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38084706)

Can I disagree here?

Of course you can.

We have a sample size of 1 right now

Exactly. We just don't know. Actually I think the liklihood of Earth being the only place with life is incredibly low, but unless and until we find life elsewhere, it's pretty unscientific to be absolutely certain that ther is life elsewhere.

When? (4, Funny)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078394)

When can we go ice fishing there? I would love to see what we catch.... Wonder if it tastes good?

Re:When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38078450)

It tastes like chicken.

Re:When? (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078656)

It tastes like burning.

Re:When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38078956)

Ralph, take that out of your mouth.

Re:When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38082826)

No, it tastes like chicken.

Re:When? (1)

meglon (1001833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38082780)

Dare you to join the Polar Bear Club there....

Cool (1, Insightful)

zwede (1478355) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078532)

Let's go have a look.

Re:Cool (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078724)

You wouldn't happen to have a rocket that can get there on you would you? And a ship with a life support system that can support a crew for several years, and a drill that can drill through dozens of miles of ice? If so, we can leave tomorrow. My schedule's good.

Re:Cool (4, Funny)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078974)

"Wanted: Someone to travel in home-made rocket ship with me. This is not a joke. P.O.Box 322, Oakview CA. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before."

Re:Cool (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079682)

Steven Moffat, is that you [bleedingcool.com] ?

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38080018)

Ridiculous. Now if you'd offer a time machine ride, definitely, but space? cmon, we all know it's not possible to reach escape velocity...

Re:Cool (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38085796)

Ridiculous. Now if you'd offer a time machine ride, definitely, but space? cmon, we all know it's not possible to reach escape velocity...

Escape velocity my arse. Look, the higher up you go, the thinner the atmosphere and the lower the gravity, right? So it must get easierr to get higher the higher up you go. So as long as you've got enough fuel, if you just go at at car speed you'll soon be in space, the atmosphere's only like a hundred miles thick.

I really don't see what all the fuss is about.

Re:Cool (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079248)

I know just the people [wikipedia.org] you should talk to.

send a probe! (3, Interesting)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078546)

A panel discussion at one of the SETI presentations, one of them said, "Go where the water is." and there's a lot more water on Europa than Mars. Though the ice is thick and radiation is intense, then there is streaming the data back to the surface from the robot submarine through all that water. But just imagine... direct observation of life forms. Most likely microbes, it would be exciting to see lots of fishes. Imagine all the posts on slashdot, those wanting to name the first fish, marine biologists having to constantly correct people's statements, on going jokes of "All These Worlds..." from the movie (incidently remember also in the movie 2010 is where the Chinese made a mad dash to this area before the Americans and Russians).

Re:send a probe! (1)

lorinc (2470890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078620)

Yeah, and all further industrialization processes... I mean, how many tons of spacy fish we can farm over there ?

Re:send a probe! (2)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078958)

I can see the packaging already.. Gorton's Space Filets

Re:send a probe! (2)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079060)

Will we be asked to trust the Gorton's Space Man?

Re:send a probe! (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078664)

Most likely microbes

Even single celled organisms [discovermagazine.com] can be quite amazing right here on earth. These puppies were recently found in the depths of our oceans. I can't wait to see what life will come up with on another planet/moon with a totally different set of playing rules.

I only meddle in biology, but what I have learned is that for each time you think that life can't get any stranger, you soon enough discover something that proves you wrong yet again.

Oblig.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079266)

...but what I have learned is that for each time you think that life can't get any stranger...

You must be new here. :-)

Sorry, couldn't resist.

But I do agree with your comment, and have been bemused and befuddled by news of the very example you link to.

I can 'wrap my mind' around microscopic single-celled organisms, having viewed them through microscopes many times.
Macroscopic single-celled organisms just boggle my mind. I have many questions....

Re:Oblig.... (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38085308)

Check out the mobile life stage of slime molds if you want something really weird.

Re:send a probe! (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078732)

But what if there is life on Europa and we kill it with our probe?

Re:send a probe! (2)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079380)

Then evolution occurs.

Re:send a probe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38079420)

What if there's no life on Europa and we bring it with our probe ?

Re:send a probe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38079524)

Then evolution occurs. again.

Re:send a probe! (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079150)

>marine biologists having to constantly correct people's statements

Technically, this would be marine exobiologists.

But that's not the point. If they did have complex organisms, I would hope they were squid-like.

Re:send a probe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38079440)

Ok, marine exobiologists and sentient cephalopod dandruff having to constantly correct people's statements.

Bette?

Re:send a probe! (1)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38082928)

the movie 2010 is where the Chinese made a mad dash to this area before the Americans and Russians

I'd love to see this happen in real life. Us westerners often need competition to really spur us on.

Good (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38078888)

Can't wait until we start searching Europa's depths instead of Mars' radiation-scorched deserts.

More accurate but less sensational headline: (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079636)

"Liquid water possibly found on Jupiter Moon"

When will the editors understand that not all Slashdot readers are carbon-based life forms. The ridiculous bias on this site knows no bounds!

Re:More accurate but less sensational headline: (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079810)

Yes, some of them are silicon based (ie news-feed aggregator bots... though that would be more binary based rather then silicon based, wouldn't it?).

Lethal radiation Bombardment (1)

jweller13 (1148823) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079762)

From what I understand Europa is bombarded with massive streams of deadly radiation emanating from Jupiter's radiation belts. How could life possibly exist much less come into being?

Re:Lethal radiation Bombardment (1)

Olorion (2465574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38081362)

The layer of ice on the surface of Europa is estimated to be up to 100 km thick. That is a huge radiation shield.

Re:Lethal radiation Bombardment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38081426)

Deinococcus radiodurans. Google it! We find life where we don't expect.

Re:Lethal radiation Bombardment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38082516)

I'm looking forward to them finding an organism which feeds on the energy in the radiation.

One other thing that ACC predicted (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38079820)

The Chinese will get there first

(in the book anyway - the movie sucked)

It is funny (1)

DnaK420 (2468202) | more than 2 years ago | (#38080530)

To watch all you "old coots" complain about the "old slashdot" and how the "new slashdot" is all memes and no scientific talk. Which is complete and udder bullshit.

Re:It is funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38083974)

Which is complete and udder bullshit.

If you have bullshit on your udders, then your cows aren't doinitrite. And you should clean it off before milking.

Underwater exploration (1)

flying squirrels (2496274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38080806)

Prominent cave expedition leader Bill Stone, who's discovered some of the deepest caves in north and south America also fathered one of the first non-military re-breathers for long term scuba dives. Among being a type-a prick, he's also created a cave exploration machine (called Depth-X/Endurance) that NASA will one day send to Europa to explore the depths. Using techniques used in mapping Florida's Wakulla Springs cave system, he's implemented such technologies as ice for fuel, autonomous surveying and nice 3d mapping algorithms, and maybe even microbial life detection which all the while can be sent back to us through the vastness of space. Pretty cool stuff if you wonder how the F they're gonna explore under the surface and setup a Starbucks. Check out more of this marvelously mustached man: (http://www.stoneaerospace.com)

Vatican (1)

luk3Z (1009143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38083592)

Vatican is not ready for the truth yet.

Alien Megalodon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38083612)

Who knows what would be lurking under the ice layer! >:[

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