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Europa and Icy Moons: January 2008


Astrobiology December 2007, 7(6): 1006-1022

http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2007.0156

Europa is a prime target for astrobiology. The presence of a global subsurface liquid water ocean and a composition likely to contain a suite of biogenic elements make it a compelling world in the search for a second origin of life. Critical to these factors, however, may be the availability of energy for biological processes on Europa.

Astrobiology December 2007, 7(6): 987-1005

http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2007.0075

We examine means for driving hydrothermal activity in extraterrestrial oceans on planets and satellites of less than one Earth mass, with implications for sustaining a low level of biological activity over geological timescales. Assuming ocean planets have olivine-dominated lithospheres, a model for cooling-induced thermal cracking shows how variation in planet size and internal thermal energy may drive variation in the dominant type of hydrothermal system--for example, high or low temperature system or chemically driven system.