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This is a close-up image of Europa
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Can there be Life in the Environment of Europa?

At first glance Europa may seem unfriendly to life as we know it on earth.

Like other icy moons, Europa is small, with no atmosphere to speak of, with direct exposure to space and the charged particle environment of Jupiter's magnetosphere. With no atmosphere there is no buffer between the surface and space itself, therefore the surface of Europa extremely cold.

Nevertheless, the interior of Europa may have been warm enough at one time to contain a liquid layer just under the surface. On Earth, we know that there are some creatures which can survive in an environment of very cold water, such as under the ice of the north pole.

This means that, if the conditions are just right, there may be living creatures on Europa under the icy surface!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF