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Alien life in our own neighborhood.

It's an exciting possibility that we might reveal as fact on multiple planetary bodies like Mars. But scientists think Jupiter's moon Europa could also be a major potential breeding ground for extraterrestrial life. Its deep saltwater ocean intrigues, though its thick icy outer shell β€” which is a dizzying 12 to 19 miles (20 to 30 km) thick, could become a barrier for future sampling missions.

But now, a new study published in the journal Nature Communications provides evidence that the icy shell may be less obstructive than we thought.

And this means that, instead of digging through the ice shell of the frigid moon, forthcoming missions to Europa might confirm water β€” and possibly signs of alien life itself β€” inside of the shells, in shallow bodies of liquid water, hiding right before our eyes.


"We identified [a] shallow water pocket in Greenland using ice-penetrating radar," lead study author Riley Culberg, a doctoral student in electrical engineering at Stanford and lead study author, told IE in an interview. "So it’s exciting that the Europa Clipper mission will also have an ice-penetrating radar instrument that can conduct similar imaging of the interior structure of Europa's ice shell."

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