REALSPACE: Looking For Life In All The Wrong Places?

Republibot 4.0
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It has been Mankind's dream to find alien peoples living on our neighboring planets. I believe that part of the reason why the American public has largely lost interest in the space program, is because we've learned that the only "life" we're going to find, will be on the level of microbes and bacteria, rather than the exotic, hyperintelligent creatures that populated pulp fiction in the early part of the last century.

Still, life is life. Our planet teems with it, in some pretty unlikely places--the "black smoker" volcanic vents deep under the sea, beneath thick glacial ice packs, and in the thin atmosphere of remote mountain peaks. It's almost impossible to imagine that the Earth is the only planet--at least in our Solar System--to harbor living beings.

So far, our probes have come up empty. We keep hoping that maybe Mars has (or had) life on it at some point, bexause we know that the Moon is a barren rock, and Venus keeps chewing up our spacecraft and swallowing them whole, so it's rather unlikely that we'll ever penetrate its cloud cover for more than a few minutes.

But are we pinning our exploratory hopes on Mars simply because it's close? A group of scientists in the UK are hoping to convince NASA to allocate the funding to take a better look at the Jovian moons, icy Europa in particular (I don't think they're being ethnocentric, do you?) They claim that Eropa contains more water than all of Earth's rivers and oceans combined, and where there's water, there's a very good chance of their being life.

So far, NASA's not biting, but the European Space Agency is planning robotic missions to the Jovian moons as well as Saturn's moon Enceladus, where watery geysers have been attracting attention from scientists since they were first spotted a few years ago.

Whether or not the astrobiologists find life, the results of their researches are sure to be...Earth-shaking.

http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/17/17799004-mars-vs-europa-ar...

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