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Europa

Ren
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11/12/2011 10:24:41 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
So, apparently, Jupiter has a moon that we've named Europa, and this planet has a surface entirely comprised of a layer of ice something insane like 500 miles thick.

This moon maintains an orbit around Jupiter in the form of an elipsis the shape of an egg. This irregular orbit in tandem with the sheer enormity of Jupiter in comparison to the moon, which is something like 2k miles in diameter (for scale, the United States is 3.5k miles across), causes the moon to literally expand and contract based on its position in orbit.

Theoretically, this expansion and contraction has a kneading effect that generates warmth, making it conceivable that below this layer of ice, which might be several hundred miles thick, is a layer of water comparable to an ocean. As water is the currently accepted fundamental premise to a planet's capacity to support life, scientists believe that it's likely that life exists there.

What do you guys think? Is there life on Europa? Should we go find out? What are the ramifications of finding life on Europa? How could we possibly pull together the resources necessary to engage such a project?
belle
Posts: 4,113
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11/13/2011 12:10:12 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
i sure if we stopped spending so much time and effort trying to kill each other we'd have more than enough resources to plan a trip to europa!

if you're looking for a realistic answer i doubt anyone here will have one
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
Ren
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11/13/2011 12:15:00 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/13/2011 12:10:12 AM, belle wrote:
if you're looking for a realistic answer i doubt anyone here will have one

I know. :(

But, I love your posts -- no input?

I mean, what do you think -- life, perhaps?

It sort of suggests the belief that one thing definitely leads to another, which may be an inaccurate sweeping claim suggested by those who want to believe that extraterrestrial life is both out there and that closely accessible.

However, there was another point made in another post that was very effective -- we have only one example of an environment that is capable of supporting life, and it does indeed support it. Therefore, it logically follows that Europa will support life as well, as it contains both water and an energy source.
Ren
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11/13/2011 12:16:17 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Actually, I'm hoping that a few will stroll across this post and have some input, which I have faith will be quite interesting -- RoyLatham, for example, or perhaps Ore-El or Lasagna.
belle
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11/13/2011 12:30:41 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/13/2011 12:15:00 AM, Ren wrote:
However, there was another point made in another post that was very effective -- we have only one example of an environment that is capable of supporting life, and it does indeed support it. Therefore, it logically follows that Europa will support life as well, as it contains both water and an energy source.

thats usually cited as a weakness... we have exactly one data point, so its pretty much impossible to extrapolate anything from that either way. we know life here started fairly soon after it was possible, but we don't know exactly how and we don't know for sure which features were important. it *seems* reasonable to think that europa could be a good home for life, but that seeming is hard to evaluate for accuracy. a mission to the moons of jupiter and saturn would probably help us a lot in determining just how common life is. if we can find microbes there then the universe must be absolutely crawling with life.... if not then we still dunno.
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
Ren
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11/13/2011 12:35:38 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/13/2011 12:30:41 AM, belle wrote:

if we can find microbes there then the universe must be absolutely crawling with life.... if not then we still dunno.

Yep, that's precisely what the scientists involved in such musings have been saying.

To be honest, when you consider the magnitude of the Universe, it seems almost inconceivable that life doesn't exist elsewhere.

I know I'd be shocked.

You also mentioned that life sprung about almost immediately after it was possible -- that also strikes my interest. Recently (I'm probably really late), I heard that life emerged very soon after the earth itself formed -- that there's evidence of life in the oldest rocks found that still exist, some 9 million years old.

That kind of puts a damper on the whole primordial ooze bit, because that's supposed to predate a functional atmosphere that would result in such an ooze.
belle
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11/13/2011 12:44:18 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/13/2011 12:35:38 AM, Ren wrote:
You also mentioned that life sprung about almost immediately after it was possible -- that also strikes my interest. Recently (I'm probably really late), I heard that life emerged very soon after the earth itself formed -- that there's evidence of life in the oldest rocks found that still exist, some 9 million years old.

That kind of puts a damper on the whole primordial ooze bit, because that's supposed to predate a functional atmosphere that would result in such an ooze.

the earth formed 4.5 billion years ago... the earliest fossil evidence for life that we have goes back 3.5 billion years, though iirc theres reason to think that life may have gotten started as far back as 3.7 billion years ago. the reason i say that it probably got started as soon as it was able is because for the first few hundred million years of its existence the earth was getting hit by tons of meteors and other space debris left over from the formation of the big bang, and any precursors to life that may have developed would have been degraded by the extreme conditions. its only a short time (on a geologic timscale of course) after this period ended that we get our first real evidence of life in the form of stromatolites in australia. but that still leaves several hundred million years of chemistry happening to get from non-life to life (i am assuming this is what you mean by "primordial ooze").
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
Ren
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11/13/2011 1:01:12 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/13/2011 12:44:18 AM, belle wrote:
the earth formed 4.5 billion years ago...

Sorry, you're right -- the oldest physical property, which is some sort of dark matter, is 9 billion years old, as are the oldest galaxies that we've been able to see with Hubble. The earth is dated at 4.5 billion years.

the earliest fossil evidence for life that we have goes back 3.5 billion years, though iirc theres reason to think that life may have gotten started as far back as 3.7 billion years ago. the reason i say that it probably got started as soon as it was able is because for the first few hundred million years of its existence the earth was getting hit by tons of meteors and other space debris left over from the formation of the big bang, and any precursors to life that may have developed would have been degraded by the extreme conditions. its only a short time (on a geologic timscale of course) after this period ended that we get our first real evidence of life in the form of stromatolites in australia. but that still leaves several hundred million years of chemistry happening to get from non-life to life (i am assuming this is what you mean by "primordial ooze").

Actually, more accurately, the oldest known rocks that man has discovered shows evidence of life. Therefore, life may not have existed, but it could have. It remains unsure because there is no remaining physical remnants of earth from that time.

In any case, I don't think that it adds the argument supporting the gradual emergence of life after precise conditions have been met. Instead, it seems to point in the direction of life emerging with only the right ingredients.

Kind of begs the question as to why we can't do it in a laboratory. The best we've done, to my knowledge, is manipulate the genome of a preexisting cell so that it produces an engineered organism.

Sounds like we're getting damned close, though, eh?
belle
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11/13/2011 1:24:22 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/13/2011 1:01:12 AM, Ren wrote:

Sorry, you're right -- the oldest physical property, which is some sort of dark matter, is 9 billion years old, as are the oldest galaxies that we've been able to see with Hubble. The earth is dated at 4.5 billion years.

i don't want to be an @ss here, but the oldest galaxy we've observed is around 13 billion years old.

Kind of begs the question as to why we can't do it in a laboratory. The best we've done, to my knowledge, is manipulate the genome of a preexisting cell so that it produces an engineered organism.

Sounds like we're getting damned close, though, eh?

several hundred million years vs maybe 60 years that we've had the biological understanding to do these kinds of experiments? i'd say that it would be shocking if we did manage to create life in such a short time. though of course there are plenty of people working on it...

the so called synthetic life was badass... but also stuff like this:
http://www.ted.com...

and this:
http://www.ted.com...

very exciting stuff
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
Ren
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11/13/2011 1:45:58 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/13/2011 1:24:22 AM, belle wrote:
At 11/13/2011 1:01:12 AM, Ren wrote:

Sorry, you're right -- the oldest physical property, which is some sort of dark matter, is 9 billion years old, as are the oldest galaxies that we've been able to see with Hubble. The earth is dated at 4.5 billion years.

i don't want to be an @ss here, but the oldest galaxy we've observed is around 13 billion years old.

See the bolded above...

Now, observe:

"We see it doing its thing, starting to fight against ordinary gravity," Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute said about the antigravity force, known as dark energy. He is the leader of a team of "dark energy prospectors," as he calls them, who peered back nine billion years with the Hubble and were able to discern the nascent effects of antigravity."

http://www.nytimes.com...

"An international team of astronomers used the VLT as a time machine, to look back into the early Universe and observe several of the most distant galaxies ever detected."

http://www.dailygalaxy.com...

This is why I like you, though. ;)

several hundred million years vs maybe 60 years that we've had the biological understanding to do these kinds of experiments?

That speaks only for capacity, which, for all we know, began with our oldest record of life for earth, which could conceivably make it instantaneous.

i'd say that it would be shocking if we did manage to create life in such a short time. though of course there are plenty of people working on it...

I dunno, we've gotten far enough in that a little further wouldn't be too surprising.

the so called synthetic life was badass... but also stuff like this:
http://www.ted.com...

and this:
http://www.ted.com...

very exciting stuff

Amg, thanks for sharing!

Dude, that's astounding.

I don't even know what to say. We're going to seriously end up creating something new.

Although, in some respects, I believe we already have. But, let's not get political. >.>

But, that said. They already created a cell that metabolizes and interacts with its environment. Wtffffffff.

Dude, we are a lot closer than I thought.

**mind blown**
Ren
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11/13/2011 1:57:05 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Holy shtt, it just divided. O.O

Hehe, see, he knows it as "primordial ooze," too. :P Although, apparently, it's still the consensus.

Lol, "dirty little protocells."

See, dude, this is definitely why I come to this site.
Chthonian
Posts: 247
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11/13/2011 12:15:27 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/12/2011 10:24:41 PM, Ren wrote:
So, apparently, Jupiter has a moon that we've named Europa, and this planet has a surface entirely comprised of a layer of ice something insane like 500 miles thick.

This moon maintains an orbit around Jupiter in the form of an elipsis the shape of an egg. This irregular orbit in tandem with the sheer enormity of Jupiter in comparison to the moon, which is something like 2k miles in diameter (for scale, the United States is 3.5k miles across), causes the moon to literally expand and contract based on its position in orbit.

Theoretically, this expansion and contraction has a kneading effect that generates warmth, making it conceivable that below this layer of ice, which might be several hundred miles thick, is a layer of water comparable to an ocean. As water is the currently accepted fundamental premise to a planet's capacity to support life, scientists believe that it's likely that life exists there.

What do you guys think? Is there life on Europa? Should we go find out? What are the ramifications of finding life on Europa? How could we possibly pull together the resources necessary to engage such a project?

I think that since life is capable of thriving on Earth at hydrothermal vents in such extreme pressures and temperatures, it is highly probable that life can exist elsewhere in the universe. In addition, the frustule of diatoms suggests that silica based life might me possible.

I believe that life is a direct result of the natural laws and forces that condensed out of the "big bang" and will always arise when the conditions are conducive to do so. Life on earth is not unique, just rare IMHO.

I also think it would behoove mankind at some point to explore the possibility of whether life can be sustained on the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, because when our sun becomes a red giant it may be the only option of continuing life as we know it.
SuperRobotWars
Posts: 3,906
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11/13/2011 12:42:50 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
http://www.universetoday.com...
Minister Of Trolling
: At 12/6/2011 2:21:41 PM, badger wrote:
: ugly people should beat beautiful people ugly. simple! you'd be killing two birds with the one stone... women like violent men and you're making yourself more attractive, relatively. i met a blonde dude who was prettier than me not so long ago. he's not so pretty now! ha!
:
: ...and well, he wasn't really prettier than me. he just had nice hair.
Ren
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11/13/2011 11:39:28 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/13/2011 12:15:27 PM, Chthonian wrote:
At 11/12/2011 10:24:41 PM, Ren wrote:
So, apparently, Jupiter has a moon that we've named Europa, and this planet has a surface entirely comprised of a layer of ice something insane like 500 miles thick.

This moon maintains an orbit around Jupiter in the form of an elipsis the shape of an egg. This irregular orbit in tandem with the sheer enormity of Jupiter in comparison to the moon, which is something like 2k miles in diameter (for scale, the United States is 3.5k miles across), causes the moon to literally expand and contract based on its position in orbit.

Theoretically, this expansion and contraction has a kneading effect that generates warmth, making it conceivable that below this layer of ice, which might be several hundred miles thick, is a layer of water comparable to an ocean. As water is the currently accepted fundamental premise to a planet's capacity to support life, scientists believe that it's likely that life exists there.

What do you guys think? Is there life on Europa? Should we go find out? What are the ramifications of finding life on Europa? How could we possibly pull together the resources necessary to engage such a project?

I think that since life is capable of thriving on Earth at hydrothermal vents in such extreme pressures and temperatures, it is highly probable that life can exist elsewhere in the universe. In addition, the frustule of diatoms suggests that silica based life might me possible.

I believe that life is a direct result of the natural laws and forces that condensed out of the "big bang" and will always arise when the conditions are conducive to do so. Life on earth is not unique, just rare IMHO.

That begs a lot of questions of Mars, though. It is the only other planet in our solar system that has an adequate distance from the sun to maintain an atmosphere and produce life. However, we have failed to identify substantive evidence that there is life on Mars... although, there appears to be evidence that there may have been life at some point. I don't believe we've learned much more than about the surface soil.

I also think it would behoove mankind at some point to explore the possibility of whether life can be sustained on the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, because when our sun becomes a red giant it may be the only option of continuing life as we know it.

Lol, well, if you're thinking that far ahead, we might want to look into real estate in other solar systems. :P
RoyLatham
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11/14/2011 9:47:43 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I doubt anyone knows the chances of finding life on Europa. Personally, I think the chances are pretty good. We're talking primitive life forms, not intelligent life forms who travel in flying saucers to stomp patterns in our crops. Basically, it is some molecule that uses external energy to replicate itself. Given a molecular soup that at a temperature warm enough to remain chemically active and enough time ... well, we'll see.

There is great interest in trying to detect life on Mars or Europa because finding life in either place would mean the process is probably common throughout the universe.

It's only a matter of time, I think, until synthetic life forms are created in a lab. Currently, genetic engineering is able to combine attributes from different species to form a new species. That's done to produce disease resistant crops and to make microbes that produce useful products. There is work on engineering a microbe to consume cellulose and excrete gasoline. That would process would chips and corn stalks into fuel economically.

If there is life on Europa, it may be hard to detect. All our present methods are designed for detecting life that's similar to life on earth. For example, on Mars they put soil in a nutrient solution an looked for CO2 to be given off. That doesn't work for a life form that produces a waste product other than CO2.
Ore_Ele
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11/14/2011 10:07:16 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/12/2011 10:24:41 PM, Ren wrote:
So, apparently, Jupiter has a moon that we've named Europa, and this planet has a surface entirely comprised of a layer of ice something insane like 500 miles thick.

This moon maintains an orbit around Jupiter in the form of an elipsis the shape of an egg. This irregular orbit in tandem with the sheer enormity of Jupiter in comparison to the moon, which is something like 2k miles in diameter (for scale, the United States is 3.5k miles across), causes the moon to literally expand and contract based on its position in orbit.

I'm sure someone already mentioned this, but the expanding and contracting is called a tidel force. It is the same force that the moon applies to the Earth to make our tides. The difference here is that Europa is so close to Jupiter, that the force is strong enough to bend solids (as opposed to just liquids). Also, because the orbit is so fast, the bending occurs at a fast rate.

We believe this to be true because, 1) the basic science predicts it to be true, and 2) we see what appear to be large stress cracks in the surface ice (which would be present from serious bending).


Theoretically, this expansion and contraction has a kneading effect that generates warmth, making it conceivable that below this layer of ice, which might be several hundred miles thick, is a layer of water comparable to an ocean. As water is the currently accepted fundamental premise to a planet's capacity to support life, scientists believe that it's likely that life exists there.

The warmth is generated through friction during bending. Here's an experience. Take any metal wire (needs to be thick enough to be able to bend alot without breaking, so a paper clip is too thin). Keep bending it back and forth really quickly for about 60 seconds and then touch the part that was doing the bending. It should be warm to the touch (though only for a few seconds, the heat will quickly pass to your fingers).


What do you guys think? Is there life on Europa? Should we go find out? What are the ramifications of finding life on Europa? How could we possibly pull together the resources necessary to engage such a project?

I would guess not. While there is likely water, and likely some major currents in that water, there is probably not a significant energy source for life. Life on earth is based down to photosynthesis (and the things that eat those). And the life that is not is usually found around sulfur vents or arsenic vents, which are EXTREMELY hot (like 200+ degrees hot). I don't think it is likely that Europa would have many heavier elements like sulfur based on how elements are distributed during solar system formation.
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
Ren
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11/14/2011 1:03:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/14/2011 9:47:43 AM, RoyLatham wrote:
I doubt anyone knows the chances of finding life on Europa. Personally, I think the chances are pretty good. We're talking primitive life forms, not intelligent life forms who travel in flying saucers to stomp patterns in our crops. Basically, it is some molecule that uses external energy to replicate itself. Given a molecular soup that at a temperature warm enough to remain chemically active and enough time ... well, we'll see.

There is great interest in trying to detect life on Mars or Europa because finding life in either place would mean the process is probably common throughout the universe.

It's only a matter of time, I think, until synthetic life forms are created in a lab. Currently, genetic engineering is able to combine attributes from different species to form a new species. That's done to produce disease resistant crops and to make microbes that produce useful products. There is work on engineering a microbe to consume cellulose and excrete gasoline. That would process would chips and corn stalks into fuel economically.

If there is life on Europa, it may be hard to detect. All our present methods are designed for detecting life that's similar to life on earth. For example, on Mars they put soil in a nutrient solution an looked for CO2 to be given off. That doesn't work for a life form that produces a waste product other than CO2.

That last point is an excellent one. It raises questions regarding whether there really is life on Mars, but we just haven't applied the right means of detecting it.

On the other hand, the physicists that engaged the Mars project (Viking? I think it was called Viking) rationalized this by stating that they figure if all matter in the Universe conforms to the same physical laws, then all organisms in the Universe should very well conform to the same biological laws.

Was it really a test for CO2 emission? That sounds so limited. That wouldn't even work for detecting plant life on Earth. They respirate CO2; they emit oxygen.

Either way, I guess we just don't know how these laws are altered in different environments, as physical laws clearly alter under different conditions.
Ren
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11/14/2011 1:04:29 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/14/2011 10:07:16 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
I don't think it is likely that Europa would have many heavier elements like sulfur based on how elements are distributed during solar system formation.

Explain this further, please?
RoyLatham
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11/14/2011 2:53:06 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The theory that tidal forces cause heating is verified by observation of the moon Io, which has 400 active volcanoes. The energy for the volcanoes comes from tidal forces. Europa is further away and has a less eccentric orbit, so the heating is less. Scientists should be able to make a good estimate of the heating.

Wikipedia says of Europa, "Its bulk density suggests that it is similar in composition to the terrestrial planets, being primarily composed of silicate rock." So there shouldn't be a shortage of heavy elements. It's not gaseous like Jupiter.

The life forms near undersea vents live slightly away from the vents, which are as hot as 750 F. What the vents prove is that life is possible by drawing energy directly from heat. Terrestrial life depends directly or indirectly upon photosynthesis, which depends upon sunlight. So maybe life on Europa feeds directly on heat.
Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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11/14/2011 3:04:43 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/14/2011 1:04:29 PM, Ren wrote:
At 11/14/2011 10:07:16 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
I don't think it is likely that Europa would have many heavier elements like sulfur based on how elements are distributed during solar system formation.

Explain this further, please?

When a solar system forms, the heavier elements are drawn closer to the star, that is why. That is why we find Iron cores in the inner 4 planets (and Mercury has the largest core is respect to its size). Once you get out into the gas giants, you'll find less and less heavier elements.

Now, Jupiter is quite an exception. Because it is so massive, it was able to basically trap its own heavy elements (likely from what would have been a rocky planet between Jupiter and Mars). And these formed moons around Jupiter, and just like the planets around the sun, the heavier elements went inward.

We see Io has a significant presense of Sulfur (it being the inner most moon of the four main moons). Of course, Europa is the second closest, so one might think that it has a good chance of having some heavier elements (some believe it has an iron core, though the magnetic field is best described by induced salt water), but if there were sulfur vents, or other noticable heat sources, the gases would be noticable leaving the surface (since it is too small to hold an atmosphere, we should be able to detect them like with Io).

This seems to indicate that if it does have a core, it is not active, so the main energy source would be the tidal forces. Which I don't see generating enough energy for the commonly known sources of life. All non-photo based life seems to require strong heat sources. And estimations of early life on Earth believes that the energy of electricity was an important factor.

While it is possible that there is a form of life that we have not expected, or predicted, I don't think the chances are very good.
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
SuperRobotWars
Posts: 3,906
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11/14/2011 6:52:19 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/14/2011 9:47:43 AM, RoyLatham wrote:
I doubt anyone knows the chances of finding life on Europa. Personally, I think the chances are pretty good. We're talking primitive life forms, not intelligent life forms who travel in flying saucers to stomp patterns in our crops. Basically, it is some molecule that uses external energy to replicate itself. Given a molecular soup that at a temperature warm enough to remain chemically active and enough time ... well, we'll see.

There is great interest in trying to detect life on Mars or Europa because finding life in either place would mean the process is probably common throughout the universe.

It's only a matter of time, I think, until synthetic life forms are created in a lab. Currently, genetic engineering is able to combine attributes from different species to form a new species. That's done to produce disease resistant crops and to make microbes that produce useful products. There is work on engineering a microbe to consume cellulose and excrete gasoline. That would process would chips and corn stalks into fuel economically.

If there is life on Europa, it may be hard to detect. All our present methods are designed for detecting life that's similar to life on earth. For example, on Mars they put soil in a nutrient solution an looked for CO2 to be given off. That doesn't work for a life form that produces a waste product other than CO2.

http://online.wsj.com...
http://www.popsci.com...
Minister Of Trolling
: At 12/6/2011 2:21:41 PM, badger wrote:
: ugly people should beat beautiful people ugly. simple! you'd be killing two birds with the one stone... women like violent men and you're making yourself more attractive, relatively. i met a blonde dude who was prettier than me not so long ago. he's not so pretty now! ha!
:
: ...and well, he wasn't really prettier than me. he just had nice hair.
Ren
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11/17/2011 1:25:17 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/14/2011 6:52:19 PM, SuperRobotWars wrote:
At 11/14/2011 9:47:43 AM, RoyLatham wrote:
I doubt anyone knows the chances of finding life on Europa. Personally, I think the chances are pretty good. We're talking primitive life forms, not intelligent life forms who travel in flying saucers to stomp patterns in our crops. Basically, it is some molecule that uses external energy to replicate itself. Given a molecular soup that at a temperature warm enough to remain chemically active and enough time ... well, we'll see.

There is great interest in trying to detect life on Mars or Europa because finding life in either place would mean the process is probably common throughout the universe.

It's only a matter of time, I think, until synthetic life forms are created in a lab. Currently, genetic engineering is able to combine attributes from different species to form a new species. That's done to produce disease resistant crops and to make microbes that produce useful products. There is work on engineering a microbe to consume cellulose and excrete gasoline. That would process would chips and corn stalks into fuel economically.

If there is life on Europa, it may be hard to detect. All our present methods are designed for detecting life that's similar to life on earth. For example, on Mars they put soil in a nutrient solution an looked for CO2 to be given off. That doesn't work for a life form that produces a waste product other than CO2.

http://online.wsj.com...
http://www.popsci.com...

My mind was completely blown twice in this thread.

An exciting one, indeed, imo.

Thank you very much for sharing that. It was definitely enormous news to me.
SuperRobotWars
Posts: 3,906
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11/17/2011 2:15:43 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 11/17/2011 1:25:17 PM, Ren wrote:
At 11/14/2011 6:52:19 PM, SuperRobotWars wrote:
At 11/14/2011 9:47:43 AM, RoyLatham wrote:
I doubt anyone knows the chances of finding life on Europa. Personally, I think the chances are pretty good. We're talking primitive life forms, not intelligent life forms who travel in flying saucers to stomp patterns in our crops. Basically, it is some molecule that uses external energy to replicate itself. Given a molecular soup that at a temperature warm enough to remain chemically active and enough time ... well, we'll see.

There is great interest in trying to detect life on Mars or Europa because finding life in either place would mean the process is probably common throughout the universe.

It's only a matter of time, I think, until synthetic life forms are created in a lab. Currently, genetic engineering is able to combine attributes from different species to form a new species. That's done to produce disease resistant crops and to make microbes that produce useful products. There is work on engineering a microbe to consume cellulose and excrete gasoline. That would process would chips and corn stalks into fuel economically.

If there is life on Europa, it may be hard to detect. All our present methods are designed for detecting life that's similar to life on earth. For example, on Mars they put soil in a nutrient solution an looked for CO2 to be given off. That doesn't work for a life form that produces a waste product other than CO2.

http://online.wsj.com...
http://www.popsci.com...

My mind was completely blown twice in this thread.

An exciting one, indeed, imo.

Thank you very much for sharing that. It was definitely enormous news to me.

Don't thank me thank Science, the supreme ruler of all things.
Minister Of Trolling
: At 12/6/2011 2:21:41 PM, badger wrote:
: ugly people should beat beautiful people ugly. simple! you'd be killing two birds with the one stone... women like violent men and you're making yourself more attractive, relatively. i met a blonde dude who was prettier than me not so long ago. he's not so pretty now! ha!
:
: ...and well, he wasn't really prettier than me. he just had nice hair.
RoyLatham
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11/17/2011 6:45:02 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
This is fascinating. The Wikipedia article on Europa is very good. http://en.wikipedia.org... It makes the case that the moon has the density of silicates and that it has an iron core. There is a thin oxygen atmosphere. The surface is too cold to support life. On a hot day it gets to -235 F.

I was wondering about the internal heat flow calculations and found a paper that estimates the water temperature. http://www.lpl.arizona.edu... The paper argues that even though there is ice floating on the water, the peculiar properties of water lead to the water being at it's maximum density point, which is about 39F. Ice floats because it has a lower density than water. The authors argue that most of the heating comes from tidal flexing of the floating ice, with a lesser amount from radioactivity of the core.

The surface shows what appears to be cracking. The authors suppose that convective flow of the water thins the ice in spots, and the ice then breaks. Only a little thinning of the 10km - 20km thick ice from a convective plume is enough to induce stress fractures. The thicker ice is more buoyant that the thinner part, so it stresses the ice. Water the comes to the surface, loses heat (it's cold on the surface), and the ice refreezes. The authors estimate that this should happen roughly every ten million years. There is evidence the surface is about 10 million years old. (Hmmm, confirmation or fudging?)

The moons of Jupiter are named after Zeus' girlfriends. That allows or lots of moons.