A British space scientist says it is ‘almost a racing certain’ that Jupiter’s moon Europa is home to alien life, but believes they are ‘octopus’ like creatures.
Monica Grady, who the Chancellor at Liverpool Hope University, suggests the icy seas beneath Euorpa’s surface is a prime location to find beings with similar intelligence to the marine animal.
Grady also thinks that the deep caverns and caves on Mars may also be harboring life-forms, as these areas provide relief from the intense solar radiation.
‘When it comes to the prospects of life beyond Earth, it’s almost a racing certainty that there’s life beneath the ice on Europa,’ she said.
‘Elsewhere, if there’s going to be life on Mars, it’s going to be under the surface of the planet.’
‘There you’re protected from solar radiation. And that means there’s the possibility of ice remaining in the pores of the rocks, which could act as a source of water’.
‘If there is something on Mars, it’s likely to be very small—bacteria.’
‘But I think we’ve got a better chance of having slightly higher forms of life on Europa, perhaps similar to the intelligence of an octopus.’
Although the idea of octopus-like creatures living on Jupiter’s moon may sound far-fetched to some, it was the plot in the 2013 film ‘Europe Report’.
In the film, six astronauts embark on a privately funded mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to find potential sources of life and stumble upon octopus-like creatures living beneath the surface – exactly what Grady, who is also a professor at The Open University, has suggested.
NASA’s Hubble NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted the presence of sodium chloride, also known as simple table salt, on the icy planet’s surface last June.
While the oceans are beneath Europa’s surface, the exterior is basically made up of frozen seawater.
This means that below its icy exterior, there’s likely to be a vast salty sea containing large amounts of sodium chloride.
Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon and it orbits Jupiter every 3.5 days.
It is thought to have an iron core, a rocky mantle and a surface ocean of salty water, like Earth, with ice flowing underneath.
As for what’s beyond the Milky Way, Grady said the environmental conditions that led to life on Earth are ‘highly likely’ to be replicated elsewhere.
‘Our solar system is not a particularly special planetary system, as far as we know, and we still haven’t explored all the stars in the galaxy,’ she added.
‘But I think it’s highly likely there will be life elsewhere—and I think it’s highly likely they’ll be made of the same elements.
‘Humans evolved from little furry mammals that got the opportunity to evolve because the dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid impact.
‘That is probably not going to happen on every planet—but it’s at least possible based purely on a statistical argument.
‘Whether we will ever be able to contact extraterrestrial life is anyone’s guess, purely because the distances are just too huge.
‘And as for so-called alien ‘signals’ received from space, there’s been nothing real or credible, I’m afraid.’
This year three separate expeditions are heading to Mars to search for signs of life.
The ExoMars 2020, which launches in July, is a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
NASA’s new rover is set to make landfall on the Red Plant in February 2021.
And the Hope Mars Mission funded by the United Arab Emirates, is set to launch in the summer.
Meanwhile Professor Grady says that by looking at the bigger, inter-planetary picture, Earth’s own ecological situation is brought into sharp focus.
She says: ‘We could be all there is in the galaxy. And if there’s only us, then we have a duty to protect the planet.’
‘I’m fairly certain we’re all there is at our level of intelligence in this planetary system.
‘And even if there are octopuses on Europa, that doesn’t give us a reason to destroy our planet.’