Are we alone in the universe? Is Earth the only habitable world in the universe? The answer to these questions may be closer than we think, literally. When we talk of other life forms in the universe we usually think of other planets light years away that contain life. However, new findings are showing that there may be other habitable worlds within our own solar system. Europa, Enceladus, Titan, and Mars all show promise.
Europa is one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter. The Voyager flybys of the moon showed evidence Europa harbours a subsurface ocean, which is home to organic compounds. Water and organic compounds sounds extremely promising. Europa, however, isn't the only world where water and organic compounds exist, or use to exist. Saturn's moon Enceladus, like Europa, contains a subsurface ocean of liquid water rich in organic compounds. Mars is known to have once had rivers, lakes, and perhaps even oceans of liquid water across its surface. Mars also contains organic compounds. Life may not exist there anymore, but maybe it once did. Titan, however, is a different story. Although Titan has hydrocarbons and other organic compounds, it doesn't have liquid water. It still has a liquid on its surface, however. This liquid isn't water, it's liquid methane and ethane. If life exists on Titan it will be far different than any life forms we've encountered.
Are we alone? New findings even within our own solar system suggest that we are in fact not alone. However, any life forms in our solar system are likely going to be very simple organisms, likely a kind of bacteria. What about complex life? We may have to look deeper into space to find answers.
Image credit: @iss
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