March 5, 2024

Experiments Measure Freezing Point of Extraterrestrial Oceans To Aid Search for Alien Life

The left panels gray and blue layers reveal the deep, ice-covered ocean on Europa, a moon of Jupiter that could host extraterrestrial life. This ocean is thought to be much deeper than oceans on Earth.
University of Washington (UW) and University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) scientists conducted experiments that measured the physical limitations for the presence of liquid water in icy extraterrestrial worlds. This combination of geology and engineering was done to help in the hunt for alien life and the upcoming robotic expedition of oceans on other worlds moons.
The results were recently released in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science.
” The more a liquid is stable, the more promising it is for habitability,” said co-corresponding author Baptiste Journaux, an acting assistant teacher of Earth and area sciences at the UW. “Our results show that the cold, salted, high-pressure liquids found in the deep ocean of other planets moons can remain liquid to much cooler temperature than they would at lower pressures. This extends the variety of possible habitats on icy moons, and will permit us to identify where we must try to find biosignatures, or signs of life.”

The left panels blue and gray layers reveal the deep, ice-covered ocean on Europa, a moon of Jupiter that could host extraterrestrial life. This ocean is believed to be much deeper than oceans on Earth. “Our outcomes reveal that the cold, salty, high-pressure liquids found in the deep ocean of other planets moons can remain liquid to much cooler temperature level than they would at lower pressures.” Knowing the least expensive temperature possible for salted water to stay a liquid at high pressures is essential to comprehending how extraterrestrial life might flourish and exist in the deep oceans of these icy ocean worlds,” stated co-corresponding author Matthew Powell-Palm, who did the work as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, likewise co-founder and CEO of the cryopreservation business BioChoric, Inc
. NASA likewise is leading the Europa Clipper mission in 2024 to explore Europa, one of the lots of moons orbiting Jupiter.

This image, taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1996, reveals 2 views of Jupiters ice-covered satellite, Europa. Europa is about 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) in size, or about the size of Earths moon.
Jupiter and Saturns icy moons– consisting of Europa, Ganymede, and Titan– are leading prospects within our solar system for hosting extraterrestrial life. These ice-encrusted moons are believed to harbor massive liquid oceans, as much as a number of lots times the volume of oceans in the world.
” Despite its designation as the blue marble, Earth is remarkably dry when compared to these worlds,” Journaux said.
The oceans on these moons might consist of numerous kinds of salts and are expected to vary from about 100 miles (160 km) deep, on Europa, to more than 400 miles (640 km) deep, on Titan.
” We know that water supports life, however the huge part of the oceans on these moons are most likely below no degrees Celsius and at pressures greater than anything experienced in the world,” Journaux said. “We needed to understand how cold an ocean can get before entirely freezing, consisting of in its inmost abyss.”
The study concentrated on eutectics, or the most affordable temperature level that a salty option can stay liquid before totally freezing. Salt and water are one example– salted water stays liquid listed below the freezing temperature of distilled water, among the reasons individuals spray salt on roadways in winter season to prevent the formation of ice.
The experiments utilized UC Berkeley devices initially created for the future cryopreservation of organs for medical applications and for food storage. For this research study, however, the authors used it to imitate the conditions believed to exist on other planets moons.
Journaux, a planetary researcher and professional on the physics of water and minerals, worked with UC Berkeley engineers to evaluate solutions of five different salts at pressures as much as 3,000 times atmospheric pressure, or 300 megapascals– about three times the pressure in Earths inmost ocean trench.
” Knowing the lowest temperature level possible for salted water to stay a liquid at high pressures is integral to comprehending how extraterrestrial life could thrive and exist in the deep oceans of these icy ocean worlds,” said co-corresponding author Matthew Powell-Palm, who did the work as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, likewise co-founder and CEO of the cryopreservation company BioChoric, Inc
. NASA likewise is leading the Europa Clipper objective in 2024 to explore Europa, one of the lots of moons orbiting Jupiter.
” The new information obtained from this study might assist even more researchers understanding of the complex geological processes observed in these icy ocean worlds,” Journaux said.
Recommendation: “On the pressure reliance of salted liquid eutectics” by Brooke Chang, Anthony N. Consiglio, Drew Lilley, Ravi Prasher, Boris Rubinsky, Baptiste Journaux and Matthew J.Powell-Palm, Cell Reports Physical Science.DOI: 10.1016/ j.xcrp.2022.100856.
Other authors are Boris Rubinsky, Brooke Chang, Anthony Consiglio, Drew Lilley and Ravi Prasher, all at UC Berkeley. The research study was funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA.