Astronomy

Life in the Solar System?

Life in the Solar System?

Scientists still hope to find life within the Solar System. We know that there is no evolved life, apart from ours. But it is possible that there is some kind of bacterial life. Or that there was in the past.

The solar system evolves. That a planet has no life today, does not mean that it could not have it at some other time in its history.

Scientists carefully study the images captured by telescopes. The spots on planets and satellites help to know what its surface is like, what happens in its atmosphere, or if it can contain ice water.

In recent years, the discovery of ice water in some areas of the Solar System opens up new possibilities for exploration. Probes have been sent to these places, in order to obtain more data. Where there is water, life has a chance to develop.

The first planets we explored were our closest neighbors: Mars and Venus. Soon the possibility of finding life on Venus was ruled out. The probes sent in the 60s met a hellish planet. The first Russian probe did not even return. A dense atmosphere of toxic gases prevents seeing the surface. The greenhouse effect is extreme and the temperatures are very high. The surface of Venus is covered with lava. The great storms and volcanic eruptions are constant. Life is not possible on Venus.

Hopes were then placed on Mars. For years it was believed that its surface was furrowed by artificially constructed canals. The misunderstanding was due to a misunderstanding of the Italian term "canali", which means "channels" but does not imply that they are artificial. The probes sent to the surface of Mars have not found any trace of life. Even so, it is still the most likely place.

Mars is the planet of the Solar System most similar to Earth and it is believed that, at some point, it housed liquid water. Having a gravity lower than Earth, it was losing its atmosphere and cooled. There could be traces of bacteria under its surface. Its atmosphere, temperature and pressure are different from those of our planet. The human being would not survive on Mars, but some extreme Earth organisms.

The next candidate to host life is Europe, the icy moon of Jupiter. Because of its distance from the Sun, its surface cannot contain liquid water. But it is believed that, under the ice, there could be an ocean of liquid water, and some kind of microbial life.

The same goes for the moons of Saturn Titan and Enceladus. They are very different places to Earth, but abundant in organic matter. If you have liquid water inside, life is possible.

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