Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arctic bacteria help in the search to find life on Jupiter's moon Europa

Date:
May 30, 2012
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
In a fjord in Canada, scientists have found a landscape similar to one of Jupiter's icy moons: Europa. It consists of a frozen and sulfurous environment, where sulfur associated with Arctic bacteria offer clues for the upcoming missions in the search for traces of life on Europa.

Yellow sulphurous emissions from the Borup Fjord Pass.
Credit: D. Gleeson.

In a fjord in Canada scientists have found a landscape similar to one of Jupiter's icy moons: Europa. It consists of a frozen and sulphurous environment, where sulphur associated with Arctic bacteria offer clues for the upcoming missions in the search for traces of life on Europa.

It is not easy to find a place on Earth where ice and sulphur come together, supposedly like on Europa, Jupiter's moon. Nonetheless, this place has been located at Borup Fjord Pass in the Canadian High Arctic. Here the sulphurous yellow emissions contrast with the whiteness of the environment, creating images similar to those captured at Jupiter's satellite.

US researchers have now verified that the sulphur involved in the life cycle of Arctic microorganisms has some characteristics that could help to detect biological remains on Europa. Large space agencies like NASA and the European Space Agency are already in the process of preparing missions.

"We have discovered that elemental sulphur (S) can contain morphological, mineralogical and organic 'biosignatures' linked to bacterial activity. If they are found on Europa, this would suggest the possible presence of microorganisms," as explained by Damhnait Gleeson, lead author of the study and currently member of the Centro de Astrobiologia (INTA-CSIC, Spain).

The 'biosignatures' are associated with needle and rhomboid sulphur shapes in which mineralised remains of microorganisms and extracellular material appears. Thanks to electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques, the formation of a rare type of sulphur has also been observed in association with organic components: the rosickyite. What is more is that small quantities (parts per million) of protein, fatty acids and other biomolecules have appeared in the sulphurous material.

"There is much evidence of bacterial activity," highlights Gleeson, who wonder if in the Europa's icy crust, or the ocean or lakes supposedly beneath it, there could be a similar microbial community that uses sulphur as their source of energy.

The researcher conducted the study, which has now been published in the Astrobiology journal, as a member of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Colorado in the USA. She is currently working as a scientist in the Centro de Astrobiologia in Río Tinto (Spain), a place similar to Mars.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Damhnait F. Gleeson, R.T. Pappalardo, M.S. Anderson, S.E. Grasby, R.E. Mielke, K.E. Wright, A.S. Templeton. Biosignature Detection at an Arctic Analog to Europa. Astrobiology, 2012; 12 (2): 135 DOI: 10.1089/ast.2010.0579

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Arctic bacteria help in the search to find life on Jupiter's moon Europa." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100421.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2012, May 30). Arctic bacteria help in the search to find life on Jupiter's moon Europa. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100421.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Arctic bacteria help in the search to find life on Jupiter's moon Europa." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100421.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — The three-man crew touched down in Kazakhstan Wednesday after more than five months of science experiments in orbit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Flare Surges Off Sun

Solar Flare Surges Off Sun

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 11, 2014) — NASA captures video of a significant flare surging off the sun. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe Readies 'space Plane' For Sub-Orbital Test Flight

Europe Readies 'space Plane' For Sub-Orbital Test Flight

AFP (Sep. 10, 2014) — The European Space Agency on Tuesday put the final touches to its first-ever "space plane" before blasting it into sub-orbit for tests aimed at eventually paving the way to the continent's first space shuttle. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins