Europa Facts Pg1

Why go to Europa?
In the deepest parts of the Earth’s oceans, miles below sea level where sun light has no hope of ever reaching, there is life!  How can life exist without the energy of the Sun?  Hydrothermal Vents!  Cracks in the Earth’s crust near tectonic plates suck in ocean water that in turn super heats the water, jettisoning it back out into the near freezing ocean water.  The superheated water may form features such as black smokers that are formed from minerals dissolved in the vent fluid.  The areas around hydrothermal vents are biologically very productive and often host complex communities of life, fueled by the chemicals dissolved in the vent fluids.  Bacteria form the base of the food chain supporting diverse organisms such as giant tube worms, shrimp, clams, and limpets. 

What does this have to do with Europa?  Active hydrothermal vents are believed to exist in vast oceans under the frozen surface.  The constant gravitational force exerted on Europa from Jupiter is believed to create heat energy from the tidal flexing.  Scientists believe that Europa is volcanically active and thus have the same ingredients for sub ocean life: volcanic heat and water. 

Europa’s Hidden Great Lakes May Harbor Life

A Window into Europa's Ocean Right at the Surface (Mike Brown)



There’s more water on Jupiter’s moon Europa than there is on Earth

Top 5 Reasons Europa Rocks!

Europa's Chaos Terrain


NASA SCIENCE UPDATE: Europa's Hidden Lakes