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 23, 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 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Hyped-Up Big Bang Discovery Has A Dust Problem

The Hyped-Up Big Bang Discovery Has A Dust Problem

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) — An analysis of new satellite data casts serious doubt on a previous study about the Big Bang that was once hailed as revolutionary. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Has Finally Reached Mars

NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Has Finally Reached Mars

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) — After a 10-month voyage through space, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is now orbiting the Red Planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX Cargo Ship Blasts Off Toward Space Station

SpaceX Cargo Ship Blasts Off Toward Space Station

AFP (Sep. 21, 2014) — SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo ship blasts off toward the International Space Station, carrying a load of supplies and science experiments for the astronauts living there. Duration: 00:35 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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