Europa May Have Shallow Water Pockets Suitable for Life

Apr 28, 2022

The search for alien life in our solar system may have taken a step forward. Scientists discovered similarities between ice found in Greenland and the frozen shell covering Jupiter’s icy moon. The moon is called Europa. The discovery, scientists say, raises the possibility of liquid water. There could be life in the water. 

It almost certainly would not be advanced life, though. If anything, it would be primitive organisms. They would live between “double ridges” in the ice, researchers said. 

Stanford University researchers made the discovery during an unrelated climate change study. They found recently formed ridges on Greenland's ice sheet. They were caused by water flowing through cracks in the ice and refreezing. The ridges looked like larger ones that cover Europa's surface. If both formed in similar ways, pockets of flowing water may have chemicals needed for life on Europa.

Scientists have wondered if Europa's oceans contain life. If so, these oceans might be out of reach. They lie under a sheet of ice at least 10 miles thick. At that depth, life might not be able to form. Water within the ridges, though, could be less than a mile below the surface.

Photo from Reuters.

Based on information in the story, researchers compared the _______ of Greenland’s ice sheet to Europa’s icy shell in order to determine if there may be organisms living in the water under the surface of Jupiter’s moon. (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. ridges
b. thickness
c. temperature
d. size
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