Fascinating Clues to Concealed Life in the Asteroid Belt #poem #poetry #science #space

Ceres in natural color, as imaged by the spacecraft Dawn

Ceres in natural color, as imaged by the spacecraft Dawn

Between Mars and Jupiter,
Scattered asteroids
Orbit in a frozen belt
Of atmosphere devoid.

We found organic molecules,
The building blocks of life,
A tar-like concentration
Within a crater rife.

It’s Ceres, a dwarf planet,
With brightened crater bowls,
Where water ice is common
Beneath its axis poles.

This rock retains internal heat
From the dawn of time
To power unseen chemistry
Beneath its blackened grime.

Wherever’s liquid water
And heat for energy,
Where chemistry is active
To battle entropy,
There could be life abundant
In briny buried seas,
Beneath thick crusts of ice
On Callisto
or Ganymede.

Or Titan, or Europa.
Perhaps Enceladus.
High in Venusian air,
Or under Martian dust.

Ceres now has joined the list
Of where we must explore
To seek our solar system kin
Upon outlandish shores.

By Kate Rauner

Thanks to space.com and NASA’s spacecraft Dawn.

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Europa-Best Chance to Find ET Life and Congress Says We Gotta Go #NASA #science #tech #solarsystem

Europa_mosaicWho says Congress can’t get anything done? They’ve told NASA “you gotta go,” could be as soon as 2022. Jupiter’s gravitational flexing generates a lot of heat inside the moon – enough for a 150 km deep water ocean to exist under the ice crust.

What’s more, rusty colored stains on the ice around the cracks suggest that the water is heavy in salts and minerals. Chemistry plus energy plus time—all of which Europa has in the right mix—may be all that is necessary to cook up life…

[A lander’s] ultimate goal would be to peer directly into the calmer waters of the ocean and perhaps even go swimming.

Congress is a blunt instrument, so I hope their requirements don’t hurt the mission. NASA still has problems to solve. But I can’t wait to find out what’s swimming in Europa’s seas.

Thanks to time.com for the article and quote.

We’ll Find We’re Not Alone – a poem by Kate Rauner

 

Blacksmoker_in_Atlantic_Ocean

Hydrothermal vents are able to support extremophile bacteria on Earth and may also support life in other parts of the cosmos.

We will find we’re not alone,
The proof is at our finger tips.
We have the means, robotic craft
Extend our touch on epic trips.
We know where round the Sun to look,
Know how to search for traces.
Moons and planets wait for us,
Within our reach are many places.
No wormholes, warping space required,
No need for hyperdrives.
Technology is here today
To find unearthly lives.
With chemistries like ours – or strange,
Not likely grays or bug-eyed men,
Expected small, but bodies huge
Are not beyond imagining.
Mars only lost his oceans
A million years ago.
Solar winds stripped air away,
And with it, oceans go.
But liquid water blankets
Some moons of Jupiter.
Beneath their crusts of ice,
Hordes of life may stir.
To feed on broth by magma brewed
May be an easy strategy.
Get energy not from the Sun,
But twisted tides of gravity.
Ganymede,
Europa,
And Callisto,
Or methane lakes on Titan,
Life free from H2O.
Geysers may toss microbes high,
Bouquets to passing hands,
Till we can pierce a mile of ice
To meet them in their lands.
To find that life is commonplace
Will not diminish me,
But will expand my mind and soul
And all that I can be.

“I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years,” Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA, said at a public panel Tuesday in Washington. “We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.” latimes.com

That would be amazing, astounding, awesome… and that’s just the “a” words I can think of. Extraterrestrial life is discussed in many places, for example, solarsystem.nasa.gov , jpl.nasa.gov , or wikipedia extraterrestrial life

For me, even a real microbe will be better than all the movies put together – reality always trumps fantasy.

Life on Europa – a Poem

deep sea tube worms

Endlessly squashed by Jupiter’s mass

Tides in rocks that flow like glass,

Heat from the core bursts up through the floor

And mineral teas brew deep in the seas.

 viper fish

Sulfur and phosphates are only in traces

But rich with precursor acids and bases,

Organic foams that slither and roam

While transparent tubes trap colloidal foods. Continue reading

Europa May Be the Best Place to look for Neighbors

Europa InteriorA new science fiction movie, Europa Report, is out this summer.  Early reviews say the movie makers have tried to present a realistic depiction of this Jovian moon.  In real life, NASA is trying to develop a cryobot that could penetrate Europa’s ice-covered surface and search for life.  Reports have said that Europa’s ocean could harbor life, and some have theorized that it is the most likely place to find life in the solar system.  Life on Earth in deep ocean vents could offer a model of life in Europa.  The tidal forces Jupiter creates in its moons would offer plenty of energy for chemosynthetic life to exist far removed from sunlight.

Europa model - Champagne_vent_white_smokers

Earthly deep ocean vent

Robotic missions don’t seem to be exciting enough for Hollywood movies, but I would love to see a real cryobot submersible swimming through Europa’s oceans searching for life.  That would be exciting enough for me, especially if the mission found life.