1. Could Shallow Biospheres Exist Beneath the Icy Ceilings of Ocean Moons?

    Vent tubeworms, such as Riftia pachyptila found near the Galapagos Islands, represent the kinds of life that can persist near deep sea hydrothermal vents, the source of chemical energy that may provide one of the building blocks for life. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Galapagos Rift Expedition 2011 (via Astrobiology Magazine) Image credit: None
    Vent tubeworms, such as Riftia pachyptila found near the Galapagos Islands, represent the kinds of life that can persist near deep sea hydrothermal vents, the source of chemical energy that may provide one of the building blocks for life. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Galapagos Rift Expedition 2011 (via Astrobiology Magazine)

    Astrobiologist Michael Russell, Co-I of the NASA Astrobiology Institute Icy World’s Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and his colleagues suggest that where an icy crust and a hidden ocean meet in a frozen world such as Europa, two sources of the building blocks of life could join together and potentially support the evolution of life. At the underside of Europa’s icy crust, they suggest that a shallow biosphere–a network of ecosystems–can form.

    The feature story by Charles Q. Choi is published in Astrobiology Magazine.
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    The research paper, “The Possible Emergence of Life and Differentiation of a Shallow Biosphere on Irradiated Icy Worlds: The Example of Europa” is published in Astrobiology.

    Source: [Astrobiology Magazine (astrobio.net)]