Likely organics and microbial life in all the liquid oceans of the solar system

In June, NASA’s Curiosity rover found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

There was also a research paper which indicates that the Viking Lander likely found organic material as well but then destroyed it by heating it for further analysis.

Researchers reexamined the original, microfilm preserved, Viking gas chromatograph‐mass spectrometer data sets. They found evidence for the presence of chlorobenzene in Viking Lander 2 (VL‐2) data at levels corresponding to 0.08–1.0 ppb (relative to sample mass), in runs when the sample was heated to 350°C and 500°C. Additionally, we found a correlation between the temperature dependence of the chlorobenzene signal and the dichloromethane signal originally identified by the Viking gas chromatograph‐mass spectrometer team. They considered possible sources of carbon that may have produced the chlorobenzene signal, by reaction with perchlorate during pyrolysis, including organic carbon indigenous to the martian parent sample and instrument contamination. They conclude that the chlorobenzene signal measured by VL‐2 originated from martian chlorine sources. They show how the carbon source could originate from the martian parent sample, though a carbon source contributed from instrument background cannot yet be ruled out.

Complex Organics Bubble up from Ocean-world Enceladus

Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reveal complex organic molecules originating from Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, strengthening the idea that this ocean world hosts conditions suitable for life. Research results show much larger, heavier molecules than ever before.

Powerful hydrothermal vents mix up material from the moon’s water-filled, porous core with water from the moon’s massive subsurface ocean – and it is released into space, in the form of water vapor and ice grains. A team led by Frank Postberg and Nozair Khawaja of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, continues to examine the makeup of the ejected ice and has recently identified fragments of large, complex organic molecules.

Previously, Cassini had detected small, relatively common organic molecules at Enceladus that were much smaller. Complex molecules comprising hundreds of atoms are rare beyond Earth. The presence of the large complex molecules, along with liquid water and hydrothermal activity, bolsters the hypothesis that the ocean of Enceladus may be a habitable environment for life.

Titan

Titan has lakes of hydrocarbons on its surface.
Titan is the only known moon with a significant atmosphere, and its atmosphere is the only nitrogen-rich dense atmosphere in the Solar System aside from Earth’s.

Ganymede and Callisto

Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.

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12 thoughts on “Likely organics and microbial life in all the liquid oceans of the solar system”

  1. Organic molecules do not necessarily come from biological life, a point that has been made here before. My bet is that if we do discover life outside Earth in the solar system, it will have come from the Earth carried by the solar wind or maybe even Earth materials kicked up by ancient asteroid impacts.

    Reply
  2. Organic molecules do not necessarily come from biological life a point that has been made here before. My bet is that if we do discover life outside Earth in the solar system it will have come from the Earth carried by the solar wind or maybe even Earth materials kicked up by ancient asteroid impacts.

    Reply
  3. It could get there in stages. Stage 1. Earth develops life and is suitable enough that soon it is filled with the stuff. From high in the atmosphere to deep in the crustal rocks, Earth is infested to the point where you can see it from space. Stage 2. Earth sheds biology like dandruff on a black suit. Stage 3. Earthlings (not the multicellular kind) colonise Early Mars, Ceres, maybe some of the Jovian moons. Stage 4. Though the biodensity, is much lower on these places, they have lower gravity and so it is much easier for life to get back into space without being destroyed in the energetic process. They are also much closer so once one Jovian moon is infected, it soon spreads to the others (where “soon” is measured in hundred millions of (Earth) years) Stage 5. From the Jovian moons it is another step out to the Saturnian moons. The same things happens. Stage 6. From Saturn it is then sprayed out to Neptune, Pluto, the Kiniper belt… Stage A. Comets can pick up stuff from the inner solar system and take it out to the Oort cloud in one go, but probably none are warm enough to actually have anything live on them.

    Reply
  4. It could get there in stages.Stage 1. Earth develops life and is suitable enough that soon it is filled with the stuff. From high in the atmosphere to deep in the crustal rocks Earth is infested to the point where you can see it from space.Stage 2. Earth sheds biology like dandruff on a black suit.Stage 3. Earthlings (not the multicellular kind) colonise Early Mars Ceres maybe some of the Jovian moons.Stage 4. Though the biodensity is much lower on these places they have lower gravity and so it is much easier for life to get back into space without being destroyed in the energetic process. They are also much closer so once one Jovian moon is infected it soon spreads to the others (where soon”” is measured in hundred millions of (Earth) years)Stage 5. From the Jovian moons it is another step out to the Saturnian moons. The same things happens.Stage 6. From Saturn it is then sprayed out to Neptune”” Pluto the Kiniper belt…Stage A. Comets can pick up stuff from the inner solar system and take it out to the Oort cloud in one go”” but probably none are warm enough to actually have anything live on them.”””

    Reply
  5. Concur. Highly unlikely any of it will be the result of a second genesis, particularly given the ease (given the time) for it to have spread across our system. Of course, if was found AND was determined to be unrelated to Earthly lifeforms, it could have serious impact on the possibility of other life being out there around other stars, although, given the likely rarity of phosphorous in star systems that might otherwise be conducive to the origination of life, it might not have all that much impact.

    Reply
  6. Concur. Highly unlikely any of it will be the result of a second genesis particularly given the ease (given the time) for it to have spread across our system. Of course if was found AND was determined to be unrelated to Earthly lifeforms it could have serious impact on the possibility of other life being out there around other stars although given the likely rarity of phosphorous in star systems that might otherwise be conducive to the origination of life it might not have all that much impact.

    Reply
  7. Concur. Highly unlikely any of it will be the result of a second genesis, particularly given the ease (given the time) for it to have spread across our system.

    Of course, if was found AND was determined to be unrelated to Earthly lifeforms, it could have serious impact on the possibility of other life being out there around other stars, although, given the likely rarity of phosphorous in star systems that might otherwise be conducive to the origination of life, it might not have all that much impact.

    Reply
  8. It could get there in stages.

    Stage 1. Earth develops life and is suitable enough that soon it is filled with the stuff. From high in the atmosphere to deep in the crustal rocks, Earth is infested to the point where you can see it from space.

    Stage 2. Earth sheds biology like dandruff on a black suit.

    Stage 3. Earthlings (not the multicellular kind) colonise Early Mars, Ceres, maybe some of the Jovian moons.

    Stage 4. Though the biodensity, is much lower on these places, they have lower gravity and so it is much easier for life to get back into space without being destroyed in the energetic process. They are also much closer so once one Jovian moon is infected, it soon spreads to the others (where “soon” is measured in hundred millions of (Earth) years)

    Stage 5. From the Jovian moons it is another step out to the Saturnian moons. The same things happens.

    Stage 6. From Saturn it is then sprayed out to Neptune, Pluto, the Kiniper belt…

    Stage A. Comets can pick up stuff from the inner solar system and take it out to the Oort cloud in one go, but probably none are warm enough to actually have anything live on them.

    Reply
  9. Organic molecules do not necessarily come from biological life, a point that has been made here before. My bet is that if we do discover life outside Earth in the solar system, it will have come from the Earth carried by the solar wind or maybe even Earth materials kicked up by ancient asteroid impacts.

    Reply

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