Scientists analyzing the halo of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet found that it contains glycine and phosphorous, two of the essential materials necessary for life to form. This discovery further supports the theory that it was comets and other celestial objects slamming into the Earth that enabled life to take hold on our planet. Scientists contend that it takes these essential compounds, water, and some energy to create life.
Why is This Discovery Important?
If these key pieces of the puzzle were delivered to the Earth via comets, then it is highly likely that comets delivered those same pieces to other planets and moons in the solar system. That means that those places where water and energy exist have a higher chance of also having life, albeit likely microbial life, on them.
Where Else Could Life Exist?
The Hubble Space Telescope detected water vapor off the southern pole of this Jupiter moon. It likely came from water plumes in its sub-surface ocean. Multiple missions are planned to what scientists believe is the most likely candidate in our solar system to harbor life. They include orbital flybys and a lander.
A few months ago I wrote a post about Saturn’s moon of Enceladus. The Cassini mission detected plumes of water that shoot 300 miles off its surface. The surface of the moon is a frigid -330° F. The fact that water is shooting out means, obviously, that water exists, and also that heat exists. If it didn’t, the entire moon would be frozen.
There is proof that water once flowed across the Martian surface, and more recently evidence was uncovered that it occasionally still does.
Saturn’s massive moon has oceans, lakes and rivers of methane. Some believe that methane can support life like water does. If true, Titan could be a treasure trove of science.
As big as a planet – or a once-planet: Pluto – Triton has everything a growing life form needs: water, energy (there are active volcanoes on it), and presumably the necessary ingredients. This moon of Neptune is a good a place as any to look for life – except that it’s way out there.
Other Good Bets:
Jupiter’s moon – and the largest in the solar system – has an ocean under 100 miles of ice.
Another Jupiter satellite – you just have to drill through 60 miles of rock to get to its sub-surface ocean.
The asteroid made famous by the SyFy Channel series The Expanse wants to be a planet, but didn’t quite make the cut. It might have an icy crust and water underneath. A couple highly reflective areas on its surface could be ice.
Called a “weaker copycat of Enceladus,” this moon of Saturn likely has water on/in it.
Yes, this 850 degree hell of a planet could have life in its cooler upper atmosphere.
Recent images show that there is a very thin atmosphere, geologic activity (hence, energy) and the possibility of water on the dwarf planet. Its “moon” Charon might have the same.
Image credits: NASA
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