Recent explorations into the outer solar system have revealed some astounding discoveries! We are not alone in the universe, at least not as living beings. The outer solar system has revealed so many surprises, and among them is new forms of life.
Scientists have long suspected that certain of the outer planets have harbored the right conditions for life to occur. Recent explorations by probes and satellites have proven that their suspicions, so long only speculation, have finally born fruit!
Titan: Home to Methane Breathers
Titan has been an anomaly among the planets of our solar system, and while it utterly lacks stable liquid water, there are rich carbon compounds present in its atmosphere that points to organisms that produce methane.
The concept of a cell membrane that could easily survive and function in liquid methane has been modeled in a laboratory, but this is the first time that such life has been confirmed off planet.
Given the temperatures of the surface, there was no possibility that water breathing life forms exist, but the conditions were perfect for these little organisms. Further exploration is required to understand their life-cycles and just what kind of variety is to be found on Titan, and such preparations are under way.
Enceladus: The Warm Hidden Ocean
Enceladus has been the most recent open discovery of planets harboring life. Enceladus has all the necessary elements to support life, with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present within its atmosphere. All elements that are here on Earth, as well as being 4 out of the 5 major components of our make-up.
Along with this, under-ice oceans exist on the planet, and the geysers spewing ice and gas from them indicate that a warmer liquid source lies underneath. Warmth, 4 elements, and water… That’s all life needs to properly cook!
Europa: The Jovian Sea Planet
Europa, named for one of the God Jupiter’s many affairs, has been the subject of much speculation regarding life in the universe. The source of these speculations was the deep seas that were revealed when the Galileo orbiter came rocketing by in 1996.
Subsequent explorations by Hubble have shown that all the signs still point to a sublimely habitable planet. In 2020 we’ll be seeing the launch of the Europa Multiple-Flyby Mission, and then in 2022, the ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer will be launched to take samples of these lifeforms.
Deep beneath the icy surface who knows what kind of life we’ll discover. While the presence of life is no longer purely speculative, what kinds of life we’ll discover is a question only be answered by further investigation.
Martians: Not little green men
The speculation about life on Mars is nothing new, for centuries there have been suspicions that this gorgeous red planet may hold life. The visit of Curiosity and Opportunity revealed that yes, there is definitely life there.
While only fossil microbes have been detected so far, the massive water-ice glaciers that exist beneath the surface are sure to be the home of living specimens, and who knows what else! Such is the life-holding possibilities of Mars that NASA is now taking steps to establish a colony on the surface, and its possible that millenials will see a thriving human population there within their lifespan.