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Ard Schenk

Icy Europa

Is ice on Jupiter's moon a sign of life?

Europa April 9, 1997

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA (Philadelphia Inquirer) -- Making a giant step in the search for life beyond Earth, NASA scientists today announced the discovery of an extraterrestrial ocean buried beneath the frozen surface of Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter.

Liquid water is the key ingredient for life as we know it. While the NASA scientists haven't detected any life yet, they say it stands a good chance of existing in this distant ocean. A further mission could very well find something alive.

Evidence for the ocean came from finely detailed pictures of Europa's alien landscape just beamed back from the Galileo spacecraft. These pictures revealed a jumble of ``icebergs'' and flat-topped blocks of ice that appeared to have twisted and turned from the motion of an underlying liquid or a muddy slush.