Jupiter's icy moon Europa is a major target of astrobiology research in light of the possibility that it offers a habitable environment in the Solar System. Under its ice crust, estimated to be 10 km thick, is an ocean of liquid water of over 100 km deep. A huge source of energy deriving from gravitational interaction with Jupiter keeps this water warm.
Theoretical research to evaluate the microbial habitability of Europa using data collected from analogous environments on Earth has been conducted by a group of Brazilian researchers linked to the University of São Paulo (USP) that jointly authored an article published in Scientific Reports.
"We studied the possible effects of a biologically usable energy source on Europa based on information obtained from an analogous environment on Earth," said Douglas Galante, a researcher at Brazil's National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) and the Astrobiology Research Center (NAP-Astrobio) of the University of São Paulo's Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics & Atmospheric Sciences (IAG-USP).
Galante coordinates the study, supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation - FAPESP through a Master's fellowship from chemist Thiago Pereira, co-author of the article who has in Galante his supervisor, and through a Thematic Project which aims at investigating places in Brazil and Africa with possible vestiges of geochemical and isotopical transformations related to the emergence of multicelular life in Neoproterozoic Age.
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