It’s a mild world, the surface is covered with ice, and there may be life under it

This paper takes part in the series essay competition of “great science” of Recordunkown.

The earth is a beautiful blue planet, is the home of human survival. The reason why the earth has such a beautiful scenery is related to the existence of a large number of water resources. The water resources on the earth’s surface account for 71% of the global area. If you look at the earth from space, you can see that the whole earth is almost covered by the ocean.

Water is the source of life. Without water, there will be no life on earth, let alone the birth of human beings. Therefore, when human beings go out of the earth and search for extraterrestrial life, their main search target is also the planet with a large number of water resources. However, if you want to form liquid water on the surface, you need to be very close to the sun. If the temperature is too close to the sun, you can’t form liquid water. If the temperature is too far away, it is too low, even if there is water, it is ice.

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According to this condition, it seems that only the earth in the solar system has a large amount of surface liquid water, and other planets either have no water or exist in the form of ice. If so, does it mean that there can be no life on other planets except the earth in the solar system? In fact, it’s not necessarily true. We should know that water exists not only on the surface, but also in the interior of the planet.

There are abundant water resources on the surface of the earth, and there is also water under the ground. Therefore, there are not only a large number of life on the surface of the earth, but also a large number of life under the ground, basically in a relatively simple form of life. If the surface of other planets is covered with ice, and there is a liquid ocean under the ice, there may also be life.

Is there such a planet in the solar system? The answer is yes. Several moons of Jupiter and Saturn are covered with ice, among which Europa is the most valuable one. Europa was discovered by Galileo in 1610. It is the sixth known moon of Jupiter and the fourth largest moon of Jupiter. Among the satellites discovered by Galileo, Europa is the second closest to Jupiter.

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Europa is a mild world with ice on its surface and an ocean at its bottom. Scientists believe that the earth’s oceans give birth to life, and Europa, which has a similar environment to the earth, may also give birth to life. Therefore, Europa’s underwater ocean has become one of the targets for scientists to search for extraterrestrial life.

Europa, like earth, is an earth like planet, mainly composed of silicate rocks, which is very similar to earth. Because it is far away from the earth, it is no longer a habitable zone, so the surface temperature is low, and a large amount of liquid water on the surface is frozen into ice. From the photos taken by the detector, we can see that it is an ice world, with ice layers as thick as 100 km distributed in the outer layer. Because of its internal energy source, it is deep under the ice or has a liquid water world.

The surface of Europa is very smooth, and there are basically no craters. It can be seen that the planet is relatively young and its geological structure is relatively active. We all know that if the interior of a planet is relatively active, there will be a very high internal temperature. Under the effect of high internal temperature, there will be a very huge ocean under the ice layer of Europa.

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This liquid ocean may be more than 100 kilometers deep, much deeper than the earth’s ocean. On December 11, 2013, NASA announced that clay minerals have been found on the surface of Europa, which may breed new life. On September 26, 2016, scientists also detected a plume like fountain on Europa’s ice, confirming the existence of water inside Europa.

Since water is the source of life, and life on earth is born out of water, life may also be born in Europa’s subglacial ocean, and it is not a simple microorganism, but a complex life similar to the earth’s marine life. Monika Grady, Professor of planetary and Space Sciences at Liverpool Hope University, proposed that similar Octopus may exist in Europa’s ocean Extraterrestrial life.

Some people may have said that since scientists speculate that there will probably be life under Europa’s ice layer, they should send detectors to look for it early. Perhaps the important task of human exploration of extraterrestrial life will be on Europa.

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As a matter of fact, scientists attach great importance to Europa, and they also want to quickly board Europa and go deep into the subglacial ocean to explore for extraterrestrial life. However, it is still very difficult to achieve this with the current human technology. The first is the difficulty of landing on Europa. Some people may think that the success rate of human probe landing on Mars has been very high, and Europa our probe can also reach, should be able to land.

But in fact, the difficulty of the probe landing on Europa is far more than that on Mars. It’s not that the temperature of Europa is relatively low, but that its ice layer hinders us. In addition to ice, there are a large number of “toothed ice cones” on Europa’s soil layer. The height of these ice cones is more than 15 meters, and they are as sharp as a blade. The landing of the spacecraft will be more difficult, It’s going to be stabbed into a hole.

Even if the probe is lucky enough to land on Europa, it’s not easy to get deep into the ocean beneath the ice. You know, the thickness of Europa’s ice layer is more than tens of kilometers. It is not easy to drill through such a thick ice layer even on earth with more advanced ice drilling tools, let alone on Europa.

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When we go to Europa, we can’t carry very advanced ice drilling equipment, we can only carry relatively light equipment, and it’s estimated that such equipment can’t drill through the ice with a thickness of more than tens of kilometers. So even if scientists can land on Europa in the future, they can only go to the place where the ice erupts.

If there is life in Europa’s subglacial ocean, there may be simple microbes in the water it erupts. As long as we collect such ice samples, we can preliminarily judge whether there is life in Europa. If there are microorganisms in the fountain, there is a great possibility that there will be more complex life in Europa’s underwater ocean.

It can be seen that the exploration of Europa will not be so smooth and many difficulties need to be overcome. It will take a long time to really explore and discover life on Europa. Relatively speaking, the discovery of life on Mars may be faster. Through more than half a century of continuous exploration on Mars, scientists have made many important discoveries, including ancient river beds, water and organic matter.

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Scientists speculate that there may be extraterrestrial life like bacteria in the deep holes on the surface of Mars, and the plan to explore the underground of Mars has already begun. The Mars probe insight is designed to explore the underground situation of Mars, and it may not be long before we can make major discoveries on Mars.

Although there is no real discovery of extraterrestrial life, Xiaobian believes that life may be universal in the universe. Different planets may have life, but most of them are simple life. Life planets like the earth are estimated to be very rare in the universe, so we should cherish our homes. Once we destroy the earth so that it cannot survive, it will be very difficult to find such a beautiful life planet.

Guys, what do you think of this? Welcome to leave a message below to discuss and express your opinions.

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