Searching for life under Europa's ice

Is there life beyond Earth?

Orbiting Jupiter almost 400 million miles from Earth is the moon Europa.  Ice covers its entire surface and cracks in the ice are filled with a brown substance whose color matches salt samples bathed in the lab with Jupiter-intensity doses of radiation. Spectroscopic observations of Europa using the Hubble Space Telescope match the spectrum of the irradiated salts.The Galileo Jupiter probe and Hubble have detected plumes of water vapor erupting through Europa’s ice sheet.What’s under the ice? If a saltwater ocean, Europa possesses the essential ingredient of biological life. NASA plans to explore that ocean – and thanks to Center for Research Computing collaborator Matthew Barry and his team, the University of Pittsburgh is an integral partner in one of the most ambitious and potentially consequential space missions since the Apollo program.

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