It’s Out There; Where & When to Find It?!?

November 25, 2011 at 5:23 PM (astronomy topics, curious research, current news, extraterrestrial studies, science and technology, social opinion, web gossip)

The search for life beyond Earth is continuing steadily.  Some of the current focuses have been placed onto locations within our own solar system.  It is understood that there is nothing within our immediate realm that can equate with the complex levels of life that exist on Earth.  Yet, the atmospheres and the grounds of some of the moons within our solar system are being examined in order to find evidence of the possible formations of primordial life.

Mars has been thought to be the best candidate to find life outside of Earth for generations.  However, as space probes and telescopic reviews have shown that Mars is not an hospitable location for life, scientific eyes have peered toward other locations within our solar system.  Some of these searches have included some of the moons of the outer planets.

It is usually agreed that for life to exist, it needs to be situated on a world within it’s solar system’s habitable zone.  This usually is a spot that is not too distant from the host star, where levels of energy and heat are delivered at the appropriate amounts for life to form and to flourish (not too hot, and not too cold; The Goldilocks Zone).  The habitable zone of our solar system includes Venus, Earth, and Mars.  Venus turned out to be too close to The Sun, causing it to suffer through a greenhouse effect before any life could form and stabilize.  Mars remains a study subject, as it is known that life does not exist there now, yet it is speculated that some early levels of basic life could have formed there during the planet’s early existence.

One former scientist, whom worked with N.A.S.A., speculates that other forms of life may be found within our own solar system, yet on some of the moons of the outer worlds.  Alan Stern, a graduate of The University of Texas, a Southwest Research Institute affiliate, and a N.A.S.A. affiliate, believes that life will not be found on the immediately obvious candidate, Mars.  This world has received the speculative honor for many years, as being the best location to find life outside of Earth.  However, the red planet is now understood to be a dead world, as researchers have been trying to learn whether or not it hosted life during it’s disant past.  Current studies are showing that two moons of Saturn, called Enceladus and Titan, along with a moon of Jupiter, called Europa, could be the best locations to find other forms of life within this solar system.

The space probes Cassini, Galileo, and Voyager all have taken images of these moons.  Cassini is at Saturn right now, and it is continuing to deliver images back to Earth for further studies.  It’s Huygens probe was launched to study Titan, gathering images of this moon which revealed that it experiences periodic rains of hydrocarbons, and that it has rock-like objects which may be water-ice!  These studies have propelled ideas for sending future probes to Titan, collecting further images that will reveal whether or not actual forms of life did exist on this moon.

Titan is observed because of it’s thick atmosphere.  It contains nitrogen and methane, which are some of the building blocks for life.  Titan also has lakes of hydrocarbon at it’s polar regions.  Examinations of this moon show that there is a small amount of water/ice there, but this composite area would not have life, likely due to it being too cold.

There is a jet of vapor containing salt-water that is being expelled from Enceladus.  At this moon’s south pole, this chemical is being ejected, hinting that there could be an interal area of Enceladus that has sustained heat due to the gravitational forces exerted from it’s pull on it’s host world, Saturn.  Some studies suggest that the water has remained liquid, and it is able to be ejected as gas, because of this heating by Saturn’s gravity.  This same heat could have allowed for life to have formed at microbial levels.

Europa has a surface that is covered by ice.  Many scientists believe strongly that an ocean exists beneath this ice layer.  The speculations go onto suggest that the ocean has been able to maintain heat due to the powerful gravity of Jupiter.  This heat, and the elements within Europa’s ice-covered ocean, are thought to be what has been necessary to maintain life beneath the moon’s ice cap.  If life is found to exist within the undercover oceans of Europa, then it likely would be extremely basic, and in the forms of microbes.

The search for life elsewhere will continue, hopefully until it reaches some levels of success. Keep in mind that outer space is extremely vast, and that we barely have begun to view what exists within the ultimate beyond.  I have to believe that finding life elsewhere would be an affirmation for humanity, and indeed for Earth, herself.  There is more than one star out there, and these other stars host planets.  Surely, some of these exoplanets are within similar settings that have allowed them to be homes for life.  This life simply could be blowing in the wind, sprouting flowers, crawling through mounds and tunnels of dirt, or slithering through exotic oceans that are slightly beyond our current understanding.  Yet, certainly, life is out there!

The Crab Nebula is filled with mysterious filaments that are tremendously complex.

SEE THESE SITES!!!…life-odds.htm

animated gif alien

Thinking about the stars….Alien Spaceship Flying Left To Right Emoticon Emoticons Animated Animation Animations Gif

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