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Biosignature on the moon Europa?

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posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 07:08 PM
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A recent article in Geobiology has reported on a study in a remote location in the far north of the Canadian Arctic.

They were especially interested in the yellow sulfur being deposited at the Borup Fiord pass on Ellesmere Island.

A helicopter view of the area shows the deposits clearly:



news.discovery.com...

What is interesting about this deposit is that it is associated with microbial life which is in fact causing the staining.


In a low valley on an ice-covered island near the top of the world, sulfur-rich waters seep from the top of a 200-meter-thick glacier. Although chilled nearly to freezing temperatures, the waters possess a complex chemistry that likely originates in microbial activity under the ice. Sulfur-rich compounds stain the ice, marking the springs with bright yellow splotches that are easily visible from the air.


Below are examples from the site where sulfur bearing water escapes from the glacier and stains the surface:



planetary.org...

These sulfur deposits are full of different bacteria. They are involved in a process called sulfur biomineralization, where bacteria are actually producing sulfur compounds by using available hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is also an energy source for the sunless underwater vents in earth's oceans.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

So what does this have to do with Jupiter's moon, Europa?



For a long time now, scientists have believed there is a liquid water ocean under all that ice. The streaks on Europa may have a similar origin as those found on the Borup Fiord.


There are places on Europa where the icy surface is stained with what appears to be the remnants of a chemical brew that originated within the ice or even within the salty ocean below it.


Scientists are especially interested in round features, called "lenticulae" (Latin for "freckles") on Europa which they believe are most likey caused by the flow of warmer material to the surface.




The spring system at Borup Fiord Pass might possess several characteristics analogous to Europa's dark spots. There may be chemical similarities: sulfur-bearing materials appear common in both places. There may be hydrological similarities: the subsurface network of cracks and fissures within the glaciers on Ellesmere Island could provide insights to how the plumbing works on Europa. And study of the microbial life beneath the Borup Fiord glaciers could lend insights into the kinds of habitats for life that might exist beneath Europa's crust.


If there is a microbial community living on Europa, they may be depositing the reddish material we see. Others have speculated on what an ecosystem on Europa might look like. Note this diagram does not take into consideration the possibility of using hydrogen sulfide as an energy source along with sunlight.



journalofcosmology.com...

Since we understand this phenomenon at Borup Fiord, scientists are applying their findings to search for life on other worlds or moons. They consider Borup Fiord to be a good analog for what's happening on Europa.

I'd like to end this post with a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke. In 1982 he wrote a book called 2010: Odyssey Two which was made into the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact in 1984. In this 1982 book, Clarke uncannily identified Europa as a harbinger of life. In the clip below from the movie, a probe is sent to investigate Europa, which is jealously guarded by the monoliths.








edit on 1-10-2011 by Nicolas Flamel because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 07:40 PM
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I heard something about this once, it's so exciting!

We are witnessing the steps towards discovering life on another planet, give it another year. The people are ready for the truth now.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 08:10 PM
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Interesting and great post. Europa has fascinated scientists for hundreds of years and the tidal forces it must have close to Jupiter and with the other 3 large Galilean moons its not out of the realm of possibilities that some microbial ecosystem does indeed exist there, the kind you mention that does not require sunlight so much for energy.

Mission JUNO does have in its plans to take measurements of the 4 Galilean moons with Europa being maybe the most anticipated, even though Io gets most of the hoopla. Other plans by the ESA and NASA have been cancelled due to mission complexities to study the 4 large moons of Jupiter.


Some scientists think the origin of life on Earth occurred at volcanic vents in the ocean. They suspect Europa has similar volcanic activity thanks to the gravitational influence of Jupiter, which squeezes Europa as it orbits from one side of the planet to the other. This "tidal flexing" should keep Europa's core molten and result in volcanic activity – just look at Europa's neighbor Io as an example. Io orbits even closer to Jupiter than Europa, and its surface is pockmarked with active volcanoes that spew sulfur and other chemical compounds into space. Many of these same compounds are found at Earth's hydrothermal vents, and may be associated with early life on our planet.


Dated article



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 08:37 PM
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reply to post by Illustronic
 


The fact that the bacteria found at undersea thermal vents are the most ancient types of bacteria (thermophilic archae bacteria) that don't even need sunlight, makes your point that life may have started underwater more plausible. Cyanobacteria, those bacteria that use sunlight for energy, evolved later.

This means that life on moons covered with ice have a better chance of surviving/evolving. They need energy, liquid water and organic materials.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 08:40 PM
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Thanks for a very entertaining and informing thread.
It appears like saturns moons are now the focus of a lot of scientific attention.
Imagine if they find a dolphin pod on this moon?
Or not.



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 09:04 PM
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reply to post by Nicolas Flamel
 


It stands to reason that early life began in the deep oceans of early volcanic earth, insulated by miles of water above, from the changing volatile surface with vastly changing atmosphere. The oceans would be more stable of a climate than the surface. I believe life on earth started much earlier than 3.2 billion years ago. Now wouldn't that make animals older than plants on earth, being that plants main source of energy is photosynthesis?



posted on Oct, 1 2011 @ 10:23 PM
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Originally posted by Illustronic
reply to post by Nicolas Flamel
 


It stands to reason that early life began in the deep oceans of early volcanic earth, insulated by miles of water above, from the changing volatile surface with vastly changing atmosphere. The oceans would be more stable of a climate than the surface. I believe life on earth started much earlier than 3.2 billion years ago. Now wouldn't that make animals older than plants on earth, being that plants main source of energy is photosynthesis?


It looks that way. Animals like jellyfish or sponges may have beat out land plants on earth by over 100 million years. This shows that an ocean only ecosystem is possible.

Recent discoveries in Greenland lead scientists to speculate that single celled life may have been around 3.8 billion years ago. The locations were at, you guessed it, ancient hydrothermal vents.

news.stanford.edu...

Here's one timeline I found from en.wikipedia.org...

The basic timeline is a 4.5 billion year old Earth, with (very approximate) dates:

3.8 billion years of simple cells (prokaryotes),
3 billion years of photosynthesis,
2 billion years of complex cells (eukaryotes),
1 billion years of multicellular life,
600 million years of simple animals,
570 million years of arthropods (ancestors of insects, arachnids and crustaceans),
550 million years of complex animals,
500 million years of fish and proto-amphibians,
475 million years of land plants,
400 million years of insects and seeds,
360 million years of amphibians,
300 million years of reptiles,
200 million years of mammals,
150 million years of birds,
130 million years of flowers,
65 million years since the non-avian dinosaurs died out,
2.5 million years since the appearance of the genus Homo,
200,000 years since humans started looking like they do today,
25,000 years since Neanderthals died out.



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 06:20 AM
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Oh this is awesome, there are theories that life could have arisen on Europa due to it's liquid oceans, and here's some proof. It would suck if there's some non-biologic explanation like some sludge leaking from some rocks or something.

Europa would probably be my top choice for other bodies that have developed life, so let's hope somebody on this planet gets a probe up there ASAP.



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 12:29 PM
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Of course Arthur C. Clarke mentioned it first. That comes as absolutely no surprise to me. We are talking about the man who "predicted the internet", "predicted the rounded car".

More like had a finger or two in the development of such things, decades before they were made public to the serfs.



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 04:32 PM
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reply to post by ThinkingCap
 


Arthur Clarke made those assumptions based on scientific knowledge already gained, as any good SF writer does. Science always involves leaps of intuition and creativity, it's just they must be backed up with data.



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 04:50 PM
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So, if the moon and Mars don't ork atleast we have Europa to fall back on, hopefully by that point they have fast food restraunts...



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 04:52 PM
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Thank you for the information.

I have been interested in Uropa for some time now. I can not wait for a serious mission there. They should set aside a minimum of 5 billion dollars and see what the engineers can come up with......Like the Mars rovers, but on steroids.



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 04:55 PM
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This is Awsome thanks for Posting !

It reminds me of this !


(From NASA )
Martian Methane Reveals the Red Planet is not a Dead Planet
www.nasa.gov...


But there is evidence of a warmer and wetter past -- features resembling dry riverbeds and minerals that form in the presence of water indicate water once flowed through Martian sands. Since liquid water is required for all known forms of life, scientists wonder if life could have risen on Mars, and if it did, what became of it as the Martian climate changed. New research reveals there is hope for Mars yet. The first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars indicates the planet is still alive, in either a biologic or geologic sense, according to a team of NASA and university scientists.

If microscopic Martian life is producing the methane, it likely resides far below the surface, where it's still warm enough for liquid water to exist. Liquid water, as well as energy sources and a supply of carbon, are necessary for all known forms of life.




posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 05:04 PM
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a tribute to Europa
may it be Life on it After All !
if it is Then we can look towards Saturn Icy Moons also !

Right at the Ending of this Clip Europa as it may of been if Only if it was Possible for Jupiter to Ignite

Yes I know its not Plausible for Jupiter to Ignite and become a Dwarf Star

2010 ending "2 Suns" (contains SPOILERS).-[2001 A Space Odyssey ]

edit on 2-10-2011 by Wolfenz because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 06:08 PM
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www.adventurebound.com... ever see this red bacrteria in AntArctica , I've been pondering if the red striations on Europa might be something similar
edit on 2-10-2011 by OpusMarkII because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 06:38 PM
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Originally posted by OpusMarkII
www.adventurebound.com... ever see this red barteria in Ant Arctica , been pondering if the red striations on Europa might be something similar


Very interesting. It looks like the bacteria are using sulfur and iron to generate energy. At the Borup Fiord site, sulfur is the main ingredient for energy production.

There are more than twenty types of bacteria at this site, many of them also found at the Borup Fiord site. But since they are also using iron as energy sources at the Blood Falls site, we see the red or rusty color.


The microbes that survive in Blood Falls are some of the most versatile organisms on the planet as they can survive without oxygen, using iron and sulfate to survive. As these microbes survive without oxygen, an important process for these microbes are that they are evidence of how possible life outside of earth would survive.


microbewiki.kenyon.edu...

So that's two very alien and ancient sites on earth where bacterial colonies survive under extreme conditions. Great find.
edit on 2-10-2011 by Nicolas Flamel because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 07:00 PM
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reply to post by Nicolas Flamel
 


If you subscribe to the theory of panspermia, The type of sulfur bacteria found in the glacier might have come here from somewhere else, and could have cousins on Europa, as well as other moons of the gas giants. There are a lot of extremophile bacteria on Earth that have evolved survival mechanisms they would not need in Earth's environment. Deinococcus radiodurans can withstand up to 1.5 million rads. 500-1000 rads is lethal to humans. Also some radio telescopes have imaged particles in cometary tails and their comas that exactly approximate the size of a bacterium. I personally think life started a long time ago and very far from here. It just landed here and started growing as soon as the earth was cool enough to allow it to. Thats what you find in the geological record, life appears as soon as the Earth is cool enough. Strange coincidence maybe but I dont think so.
edit on 2-10-2011 by openminded2011 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 07:46 PM
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Originally posted by OpusMarkII
www.adventurebound.com... ever see this red bacrteria in AntArctica , I've been pondering if the red striations on Europa might be something similar
edit on 2-10-2011 by OpusMarkII because: (no reason given)



Researchers have found microorganisms surviving in this ancient subglacial lake with no oxygen. They believe that the microbes might have adapted to use sulfate to breathe the iron. This could be an explanation on how life survived when Earth froze over hundreds of millions of years ago or give astrobiologists hope for finding subsurface life on other planets with harsh environments like Mars. Not all life on our planet breathes oxygen.


Interesting !




Could there be Life !




edit on 2-10-2011 by Wolfenz because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 07:50 PM
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reply to post by openminded2011
 


Some scientists are claiming to have found evidence of life on earth at 4.25 billion years ago:


As the zircons were radioactively dated to be as old as 4.25 billion years, the new findings suggest that carbon-based life may have been present on Earth within the first 300 million years after planetary formation.


www.solstation.com...

We don't know how long it takes life to evolve from nothing, but 300 million years seems like a small window. If we ever find meteorites with living bacteria in them, panspermia will have to be considered more seriously.

By the way, I agree with your assessment of Deinococcus radiodurans. It seems designed to live in outer space. I made a post about this "Conan" bacteria here: www.abovetopsecret.com...



posted on Oct, 2 2011 @ 08:27 PM
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reply to post by Wolfenz
 


asimov knew that too and that's why he had the monoliths encase jupiter to give it the mass it needed to spark.


the guy was brilliant.

i expect them to find life just about everywhere they go.





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