NATIONAL

‘Life elements may be abundant on Jupiter’s moon’

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Apr 8, 2013 - 17:37
  • Updated : Apr 8, 2013 - 17:37

Jupiter’s moon Europa might be rich in energy sources necessary for life, a new discovery by U.S. researchers indicated.

Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and California Institute of Technology said there is an ample amount of hydrogen peroxide on the ice-covered moon, citing the results of an infrared observation of Europa.

According to the researchers, the oxidants on the surface can potentially mix with Europa’s presumed subsurface water sources, providing chemical elements and energy sources vital for living organisms.

A similar process occurred when life first formed on Earth.

“The availability of oxidants like peroxide on Earth was a critical part of the rise of complex, multicellular life,” study leader Kevin Hand said in a statement

The researchers said the abundant peroxide was formed when Europa’s icy surface interacted with radiation generated by Jupiter’s magnetic field.

Regarding searching for life on Europa, the existence of hydrogen peroxide is good news because the oxidant releases oxygen when mixed with water.

The researchers added that they are still unclear on how the hydrogen peroxide on the surface and underground water can mix.

The study was published in scientific journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.


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