Life On A Moon? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Not too long ago there was excitement in the science world sparked by evidence suggesting that possibly there exists some form of primitive, microscopic life on Mars. This possible discovery brought new light to one of the most highly pondered and investigated questions in science today: could there be life elsewhere in the solar system?

Presently, scientists are again excited over new evidence that has led to speculation over the existence of life even more advanced than that which may exist on Mars. Strangely enough, the place thought to be the habitat of these life forms is not on a planet, but is one of Jupiter's four large moons, Europa.

In 1989 NASA launched the spacecraft Galileo to enter Jupiter's orbit to study it and its moons. Last fall the spacecraft transmitted back to earth images of Europa that revealed images of large cracks called fissures that etch their way through the massive layer of ice that covers the whole planet. These cracks are similar in appearance to a highway as long as the entire western United States, and are said to provide a strong basis to support the idea that Europa is covered by interlocking ice sheets that slide on deeper layers of warm slush or float on a huge body of water.

Further investigation has led scientists to believe that the enormous gravitational force Jupiter has on Europa might be causing geological forces, such as volcanoes, to generate enough heat to cause the ice beneath the moon's surface to buckle and melt. Eventually this leads to the formation of an ocean beneath Europa's icy surface that scientists think just may have the capability of supporting several species of life forms similar to jellyfish, shrimp, and other types of fish.

At this moment NASA has a team of well-accomplished scientists gathering up as much information and conclusive evidence of life on Europa as possible.

There are several proposals as to how to better observe Europa. One suggests that a space probe be launched armed with a heavy bowling ball-like object. The probe would drop the object onto Europa's icy surface causing pieces to fly into space where the probe could collect them and bring them back to Earth for analysis. Another proposal suggests that a very complex spacecraft with the capabilities of diving through Europa's surface, be launched to send back images of the sea that is believed to lie beneath the moon's surface. If it turns out that crafts like these are launched sometime in the near future and their expeditions prove to be successful, it would only be a matter of time before scientists could determine, almost definitely, whether or not life exists on Europa.

For now, the entire science world is in suspense to find out what insight the future will bring to this matter, as each and every day scientists grow closer to finding out if we are not alone in our solar system. u


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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