DAVID A. HARDY, FUTURES: 50 YEARS IN SPACE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID A. HARDY, FUTURES: 50 YEARS IN SPACE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Studying life on Europa. Artwork of a submarine probe studying life around a hydrothermal vent in an ocean on Europa, a moon of Jupiter (seen at upper left). Hydrothermal vents (or black smokers) are found on ocean floors on Earth. They are regions where superheated water erupts from the ocean floor. The towering vents build up as minerals in the water precipitate out as the water cools. On Earth such vents support entire ecosystems. Europa is thought to have an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface crust of ice. If hydrothermal vents were present then they could support alien life.
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