Alien Moons May Support Extraterrestrial Life
W've learned that moons don't have to rely on starshine to stay warm if they're in orbit around a king-size planet.
Even moons that are captive to planets in the frigid outer realms of a solar system might be sufficiently heated to have liquid-water oceans below their surface rather than a layer of ice.
Alien Moons Around Distant Planets Too Small For Life
As large as exomoons could get, some might reach at least twice the mass of Mars. Models of their formation suggest they could never get near the mass of Earth. Because of this size limitation, exomoons probably cannot form magnetic fields of their own powerful enough to shield any life on them from cosmic rays.
Exomoons could have another magnetic field source, though, which might emanate from the giant planets they would orbit. These planets are surrounded by magnetospheres, bubbles of plasma created by stellar winds crashing into the magnetic fields of planets. These magnetospheres can be huge.
The problem exomoons face has to do partly with tides. Giant planets can exert an incredible gravitational pull on their moons. If the moons are too close, tidal heating would make it too hot for liquid water on their surfaces. However, if the moons are too far, they would no longer be protected by the magnetospheres of the planets.
Still, exomoons could continue to be shielded if the giant planets they orbit differ in composition from those in our solar system. For example, a Neptune-like planet that was composed almost completely of heavy elements instead of having almost half of its mass in hydrogen... read more at alien moons too small for life.
Mystery of the Milky Way's Exomoons
Astrobiologists predict alien moons may prove to be hotspots for life. Rogue moons explain several puzzling phenomena.
Maybe in the near future we will be able to detect more moons orbiting exoplanets. Some planets appear wobble as Pluto and Charon appear to wobble as they travel around our sun.
Alien Life Could Thrive In A Place Like Saturn's Icy Moon
Life as we know it needs three things: energy, water and chemistry. Saturn's icy moon Enceladus has them all as NASA spacecraft Cassini confirmed in the final years of its mission. While Cassini explored the Saturnian neighborhood, its sensors detected gas geysers that spewed from Enceladus's southern poles.
Beneath Enceladus's ice shell is a liquid ocean. Astronauts looking for a cosmic vacation destination would be disappointed. The moon is oxygen-poor because the moon's ice sheets reflect 90 percent of the incoming sunlight. Despite frigid temperatures, water is thought to reach up to 194 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are, however, some important caveats. Cassini detected formaldehyde on Enceladus, which can disrupt the life cycle of even the hardiest archaea. Okinawensi could resist certain concentrations of formaldehyde but only to a point. It failed to grow at the highest formaldehyde concentrations detected by the Cassini probe.
The study also assumes that hydrothermal systems exist on Enceladus. This remains an assumption. No evidence exists for these systems. Biology is not required to explain the presence of methane on Enceladus. Nonbiological processes also can create the gas... read more at alien life could thrive in Saturn's moon.
Scientists Use Exomoons To Hunt For Life
Scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency studied the light from a lunar eclipse during a two-day window.
For the first time, scientists used a space telescope to capture ultraviolet wavelengths. Ground-based studies have been done before using a space telescope for this observation.
Europa Could Be The Best Place to Look For Alien Life
The search for extraterrestrial life is increasingly homing in on the Solar System's ocean worlds, and there's new evidence that Jupiter's moon Europa should be the first port of call. Research has also shown that processes such as radioactive decay or tidal forces could have generated sufficient heat to allow for such liquid water
We're not quite sure what form extraterrestrial life might take if we can find it, but alien moons such as Europa and Saturn's Enceladus are of great interest. It's led to hopes that the moons might harbour life akin to the teeming ecosystems around hydrothermal vents as found here on Earth.
Scientists have been working to figure out how an upcoming mission can search for life signs and how likely it is to find them. Part of this is working out the likelihood of some of the unique conditions. This is what NASA planetary scientists Mohit Melwani Daswani and Steven Vance have been studying.
We know, based on earlier research, that Europa is pretty salty, leading to hopes that it's oceans are fairly similar to Earth's. The researcher's simulation also modelled the composition of the Europan ocean over time, and found that it probably started out mildly acidic... read more at the best place to look for alien life.
Hints Of Alien Moons With Hubble Data
Over the past 30 years, astronomers have found thousands of alien planets. But no-one has claimed to find an exomoon.
New data from the Hubble Space Telescope adds weight to earlier suggestions there might be a Neptune-sized moon orbiting an alien planet 8,000 light-years from Earth.
Why We're Looking for Alien Life on Moons And Not Just Planets
Think alien moons and you probably envision a desolate, cratered landscape. But that isn't necessarily true for every moon. A handful of the roughly 150 moons in the solar system have atmospheres, organic compounds, ice, and maybe even liquid water seem like places where something could live, albeit something weird.
Finding moons isn't easy. Kepler was designed to find planets. The telescope watches for dips in starlight when a planet passes in front of it's star. But if a moon accompanies that planet, it could further lessen that starlight. A moon's gravitational tug also causes the planet to wobble, a subtle motion that scientists can measure.
In their search, Kipping’s team sifts through more than 4,000 potential planets in Kepler’s database, identifying 400 that have the best chances of hosting a detectable moon. They then use a supercomputer to simulate how hypothetical exomoons of every possible size and orientation would orbit each of the 400 planets.
If the galaxy is filled with big moons about the same size as Earth or larger, then the researchers might find a dozen such moons in the Kepler data. But if the universe doesn’t make moons that big and they’re as small as the moons in our solar system... read more at Why We're Looking for Alien Life on Moons.
Exciting Alien Moons Get First Up Close Look
NASA's Juno probe will soon fly close to a trio of Jupiter's intriguing moons best bets for finding life beyond Earth.
As Juno continues its surveillance of the system, its loops around Jupiter will tighten, bringing the spacecraft closer and closer to our solar system’s largest planet.
Alien Moons Could Host Life Outside Habitable Edge
Astronomers have their fingers crossed that within the haul of data collected by NASA's Kepler mission, which has already detected nearly 3,000 possible exoplanets, hide the signatures of the very first exomoons. The discovery of exomoons will open up an exciting new frontier in the continuing hunt for habitable worlds.
With the confirmation of exomoons likely right around the corner, researchers have begun addressing the unique and un-Earthly factors that might affect their habitability. Because exomoons orbit a larger planetary body, they have an additional set of constraints on their potential livability than exoplanets themselves.
In essence, compared to planets, exomoons have additional sources of energy that can alter their "energy budgets, which, if too high, can turn a temperate, potential paradise into a scorched wasteland. What discriminates the habitability of an alien moon from a planet are thecontributions to their energy budget.
A series of recent papers from the University of Washington and the NASA Astrobiology Institute targeted some of the big-picture problems to habitability posed by the relationship between exomoons and their host planets. A circumplanetary habitable edge has been proposed... read more at alien moons could host life.
Alien Moons Outside Our Solar System
Over the last couple of decades, astronomers have identified thousands of planets outside our solar system. However, they have been unable to find confirmation of a moon.
Distant worlds were considered the best entrant for exomoons due to their relatively wide orbits spaning more than 30 days.
Why Look For Life in alien oceans on distant moons?
There are moons in the outer solar system with oceans under the surface that may be teeming with life. Scientists are planning missions to Jupiter's Europa and Neptune's Triton to answer questions about life on Earth. Scientists are often asked how their fundamental research in space can be applied in the real world.
Europa, Enceladus, and Triton are just three of over 200 alean moons in our solar system. But they are special moons. They seem to have live, liquid water environments below the surface, also known as subsurface oceans. These are global liquid oceans covered with ice where hydrothermal vents could exist.
Not so long ago, those trenches were believed to be too dark for any life to exist. But through oceanographic research and commercial prospectors trawling for rare minerals like manganese nodules, we now know that hydrothermal vents are teeming with microbial life. The same may be true on a alien moons
NASA's Discovery Program has two further outer solar system moon missions under consideration. One of those missions is called Trident. And if it's selected to move forward, the mission will investigate Neptune's moon, Triton. Trident launches in 2026... read more at life in alien oceans on distant moons.