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Re: Jupiter Moon May Have Life Elements

From: RSchatte@aol.com
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 19:26:24 -0400 (EDT)
Fwd Date: Thu, 09 Oct 1997 22:15:39 -0400
Subject: Re: Jupiter Moon May Have Life Elements

Forwarded message:
Subj:    Jupiter Moon May Have Life Elements
Date:    97-10-09 18:04:46 EDT
From:    AOL News

.c The Associated Press

      WASHINGTON (AP) - The discovery of organic compounds on two of
Jupiter's moons increases the possibility that all of the elements
for life are present on another of the planet's moons, Europa.

      The finding, from instruments on the Galileo spacecraft orbiting
Jupiter, suggests that Europa may have all three of the ingredients
scientists consider essential for life: an energy source, liquid
water and organic molecules, said planetary scientist Thomas B.
McCord of the University of Hawaii.

      ``This doesn't mean there is life on Europa,'' said McCord, lead
author of a study to be published Friday in the journal Science.
``The exciting thing now is the evidence that Europa may have all
three of the ingredients.''

      Europa is already known to have water and internal heat sources.

      Dale Cruikshank, a research scientist at NASA's Ames Research
Center, said the work of McCord and his team should sharpen the
research concentration on Europa, which already ``is the subject of
very special interest.''

      ``This finding increases the plausibility for life on Europa,''
Cruikshank said. ``It also supports the idea that there were
organic molecules streaming throughout the solar system.''

      The study of Jupiter's moons is part of a growing effort by
astronomers and planetary experts to find evidence of life within
the solar system, particularly on Mars.

      A major goal of NASA's Mars exploration, for example, is to
search for the fingerprints of life on the Red Planet. Researchers
have determined that Mars once had vast pools of water and there is
speculation this could have led to the evolution of life. Some
believe there may be evidence of life in frozen underground water.

      NASA researchers also have found what some believe may be the
fossilized remains of microbes in an asteroid that fell to Earth
from Mars. The interpretation of that finding, however, is

      In the case of Jupiter's moons, instruments on Galileo detected
the complex organic molecules on the surfaces of the moons Collisto
and Ganymede, suggesting that such organics are also present on
Jupiter's other two large moons, Europa and Io.

      ``What we have on Collisto and Ganymede are some of the kinds of
organic molecules that could be the basis for life,'' said McCord.
``These are the basic ingredients.''

      And if Collisto and Ganymede have these compounds, said McCord,
then it is highly likely that they also exist on Europa.

      Water and an energy source, said McCord are ``two angles on the
triangle of life.'' Now, by finding organics present on two other
Jovian moons, there is a strong suggestion that the third angle of
the triangle may be present on Europa, he said.

      Life on Collisto, Io and Ganymede is considered unlikely because
they are dry.

      No organic chemicals have been detected on Europa, but
researchers have speculated that there may be a rich organic soup
below the moon's ice cap and that this could be a warm, liquid
place for the evolution of life.

      None of the research so far has proven that life exists or has
ever existed on any of Jupiter's moons, McCord emphasized.

      He compared the research progress to how a cake is made.

      ``We've got the flour and sugar and the water to make the
dough,'' said McCord. ``And there's a suggestion that the oven is

      But assembling the ingredients does not mean the cake has been
made, he said.

      The organics were detected by Galileo instruments that capture
solar radiation reflected off the surface of the moons. The
wavelength of the reflection is unique for each molecule, giving an
electromagnetic ``signature'' of the surface chemistry.

      McCord said the findings included various combinations of
oxygen, carbon, sulphur, hydrogen and nitrogen that can make up
several types of organic compounds.

      One signature suggested the presence of tholins, an organic
``gunk'' that laboratory experiments have linked to the evolution
of life, he said.

      AP-NY-10-09-97 1757EDT

Copyright 1997 The Associated Press.  The information
contained in the AP news report may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without
prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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