Ceres, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede, Titan, Enceladus, and probably the dwarf planet, Pluto, are only a few of the celestial bodies that researchers believe could support life. The assumption is based on their rich hydrography, since the moons are commonly referred to as “ocean worlds,” given their inner composition that presents abundant liquid water and not only. Together with organic molecules and tidal heating, this trio creates the basic ingredients for developing life.
The leading astronomer of a recently published paper, Dr. Lynne C. Quick, a NASA planetary scientist, has declared that throughout her study, she managed to determine that ocean worlds are not an irregularity in our solar system. Their study was published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society journal, and it is entitled “Forecasting Rates of Volcanic Activity on Terrestrial Exoplanets and Implication for Cryovolcanic Activity on Extrasolar Ocean Worlds.”
During their study, the astronomers analyzed the presence of exoplanets that host both interior oceans and geological phenomena, which automatically result in plume activity. Europa and Enceladus are known for eruptions of plumes of water, being one of the most important criteria to support life. Therefore, if these two places can possibly be inhabited, there is hope to find even larger celestial bodies that could support life.
Upcoming missions to detect the habitable potential of other exoplanets are centered on those celestial bodies that present a global biosphere as the one our planet has even though those icy moons far away from the Sun that does not have any liquid water have been spotted as suitable environments to support life.
The next missions that aim to provide resourceful information about the formation and evolution of these celestial bodies include NASA’s Europe Clipper and NASA’s Dragonfly mission. While the first one will travel to Jupiter’s Europe to analyze its interior, the other one will explore Titan’s atmosphere.