Extraterrestrial life News

Life beyond Earth awash in water?

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So says Jet Propulsion Lab:

As NASA missions explore our solar system and search for new worlds, they are finding water in surprising places. Water is but one piece of our search for habitable planets and life beyond Earth, yet it links many seemingly unrelated worlds in surprising ways.

“NASA science activities have provided a wave of amazing findings related to water in recent years that inspire us to continue investigating our origins and the fascinating possibilities for other worlds, and life, in the universe,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for the agency. “In our lifetime, we may very well finally answer whether we are alone in the solar system and beyond.”

The chemical elements in water, hydrogen and oxygen, are some of the most abundant elements in the universe. Astronomers see the signature of water in giant molecular clouds between the stars, in disks of material that represent newborn planetary systems, and in the atmospheres of giant planets orbiting other stars.

There are several worlds thought to possess liquid water beneath their surfaces, and many more that have water in the form of ice or vapor. Water is found in primitive bodies like comets and asteroids, and dwarf planets like Ceres. The atmospheres and interiors of the four giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — are thought to contain enormous quantities of the wet stuff, and their moons and rings have substantial water ice.

Perhaps the most surprising water worlds are the five icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn that show strong evidence of oceans beneath their surfaces: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto at Jupiter, and Enceladus and Titan at Saturn. More.

See also: Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

3 Replies to “Life beyond Earth awash in water?

  1. 1
    Jim Smith says:

    I wish you would be a little bit more plain in your writing. I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or what your point is. You ought to care if your readers can understand what you are saying. I could click on the links and study all your references, but maybe I won’t. If you have my attention why don’t you take the opportunity to make your point clearly? That is why you are blogging – to spread your views – not to impress us with your ironic wit.

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    Jim Smith @1

    Yes. As near as I can tell, the NASA press release is true and accurate, exactly the kind of thing NASA puts out to support their budget. So what exactly is the complaint about the press release?

    The problem with finding Life is the need for liquid water on a planet (or moon) that is not so close to its star (or gas giant planet) that there is continuous sterilizing radiation. The NASA marketing guys freely ignore this because there are billions of dollars at stake. Both members of Congress and the taxpaying public need to understand how little NASA is actually saying.

  3. 3
    awstar says:

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

    Let’s see. In the first three sentences of the Bible, we learn something about God, heaven, earth, and waters. And yet these brilliant people say: “they are finding water in surprising places. Water is but one piece of our search for habitable planets and life beyond Earth, yet it links many seemingly unrelated worlds in surprising ways”

    Surprise, surprise indeed!

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