back to article Antarctic discovery: ALIEN LIFE may be FOUND ON MOON of Jupiter

Boffins reckon the evidence of live microbes deep in the dark, cold, briny depths of Antarctic lakes suggests that life may thrive in similarly hostile environments on other worlds and moons of the solar system - and beyond. Lake Vida in Antarctica A zoo-o-boffinry team discovered an ancient colony in Lake Vida, Antarctica, …

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Extremeophiles

This is fast becoming dog bites man news.

Pretty much any extreme environment has something living there, so how hard do we have to look before we can find it? I suppose the question is: Does life need benign conditions to prosper and then adapt to extreme environments? If the answer to that is no, then there *must* be life elsewhere in the solar system, and it's just a matter of time and money before we find it.

If it's microbial, lets hope it doesn't turn out to be the human equivalent of ash dieback... I can think of several TV series/films dealing with nasties brought back from outer space I'd prefer it if none of them turned out to be documentaries.

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Alien

Re: Nasties from beyond

It makes for an exciting movie, of course.

But consider it in reverse: What's the likelihood that we discover something on a moon of Jupiter that turns out to be SIMPLY DELICIOUS?

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Happy

Re: Nasties from beyond

Mmm, Popplers!

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Happy

Everything is relative

Meanwhile, a colony of bacteria have come into contact with a group of higher organsims for the first time in 2,800 years who have somehow managed to survive in an extremely toxic atmoshere composed mainly of nitrogen and oxygen, whilst simultaneously managing to endure boiling hot temeratures as high as 45 degrees celcius.

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Joke

Re: Nasties from beyond

"But consider it in reverse: What's the likelihood that we discover something on a moon of Jupiter that turns out to be SIMPLY DELICIOUS?"

I thought they all tasted like chicken.

I bet some of them even taste more like chicken than some "chicken" sold by some elderly colonel here on earth.

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Happy

Re: Everything is relative

But that means they exist at the temperature of molten ice! Outrageous!

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Facepalm

minus-13°C

So is that +13c?

Double negative and all...

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I'm wondering ...

... did the microbes originate/evolve in that location, or did they adapt when they found themselves in an environment that got colder and less hospitable?

The question could go some way to being answered by genome sequencing and comparison with existing 'normal' micro-organisms.

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Alien

Re: I'm wondering ...

I would imagine that there is a chance of "tropical infection" in this case, because Antarctica has been drifting around and whatnot for billions of years. So it's possible that these microbes are distant relatives of paleolithic microbes that started out in sunny, rainy Antarctica and then evolved to their current extreme environment.

Good catch! That's not going to happen on Europa.

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Re: I'm wondering ...

This is a good point and something that seems to be missed in Reg articles on the issue. It's also the reason I still hold out hope for subterranean* microbial life on Mars. Current evidence suggest that it once had an environment that would have been suitable for life to evolve in what we regard as the 'traditional' way. As its core cooled and its atmosphere was stripped away this life could have gradually evolved into an extremophile form which may still be present today.

As far as I know Europa has never had an environment in which 'traditional' life could take hold so I don't understand why certain scientists (or at least journalists taking their quotes out of context) have decided that there may be extremophiles there. Unless I missed the article on scientists finding a way to form organic compounds and then subsequently living organisms in an environment of complete darkness and extreme cold it all just seems like wishful thinking.

*Submartian?

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Trollface

Re: I'm wondering ...

"... did the microbes originate/evolve in that location, or did they adapt when they found themselves in an environment that got colder and less hospitable?"

No God invented them and put them there.....

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Go

Re: I'm wondering ...

<pedant mode on>

sub-arean I think you mean :)

</pedant mode>

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Coat

So ...

The amazingly tough Vidan life thrived in minus-13°C brine of more than 20 per cent salinity and swirling with noxious ammonia, nitrogen, sulphur and supersaturated nitrous oxide."

... rather like Canada, then. Oh, but I kid!

Mine's the one with the copy of "Biographies of Great Canadians" in the change pocket.

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Reveals our purpose on the planet

> noxious ammonia, nitrogen, sulphur and supersaturated nitrous oxide.

So all the stuff we pump out as pollution is actually scrummy, yummy FOOD to these guys. It could turn out that the sole reason humanity exists is to prepare the way for the next wave of evolution.

Turn them coal-fired power stations up to 11 and lose the scrubbers!

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Happy

Is that picture wallpaper for the Windows 8 desktop?

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So....

It evolved to cope with the conditions in the lake. Would life have evolved there in the first place? Seems unlikely.

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strange i would have thought the shoggoths would have eaten everything down there by now

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Life, Jim, but not as we know it

One of the biggest assumptions biologists make is that because life exists on Earth, Earth-like conditions are needed for life.

But for all we know, the conditions we enjoy may be imimicable to life, but it evolved and adapted here in spite of the enviroment, not because of it.

It wouldn't surprise me if the majority of life elsewhere would find Earth's conditions totally lethal.

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Alien

Re: Life, Jim, but not as we know it

"It wouldn't surprise me if the majority of life elsewhere would find Earth's conditions totally lethal."

I think someone just finished watching their copy of Signs.

No water, please.

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Re: Life, Jim, but not as we know it

consider life from a machine perspective, a replicating machine: Other life environments, other chemistry might exist but will require much energy input, and most assume water would be key. Even dropping a water necessary assumption and considers other liquid media, e.g. Titan, then with a lack of energy reproduction, and life cycles themselves would be very long and slow, with correspondingly slow evolution.

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Boffin

Alternate basis for life

I've always been fascinated by the possibility that there are alternatives to CHON-based life (and not machine / AI live but "naturally occurring") - unfortunately I don't have enough knowledge of chemistry and biology to really know what I'm talking about. Maybe someday we'll know, but until then...

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Boffin

Re: Alternate basis for life

From a chemistry perspective, the viability of life based on other elements comes down to what bonds the elements involved can form, and their relative energies.

Carbon is such a suitable element for life because of the range of different bonding structures it can form with other abundant elements, particulalrly with hydrogen and itself. Carbon can form chains and cyclic compounds because the bond energy of the C-C bond is not too far from that of C-H bonds, meaning that not too much energy is required to shuffle the configurations around. C-O and C-S bonds are in a lower energy range (energetically favourable, hence the ability to burn carbon compounds).

Contrast silicon, the next element down the periodic table from Carbon, and the one most often bandied around when people talk about alterntive chemistries for life. Silicon, like carbon has four electrons available for bonding, so like carbon, can form a myriad of structures. The bond energies are, however, less favourable. Si-O bonds are of a significantly lower energy than Si-Si and Si-H bonds (thus more favoured, forming the bond releases energy). Silicon dioxide, unlike carbon dioxide, is a crystalline solid. Once in this state, it is very difficult for life to do anything with it. Unlike carbon, the range and variety of structures that the element can make is largely dominated by such crystalline solids.

Whilst silicon can form chains, cyclic compounds, and liquids, these are predominantly compounds of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms. These are too stable to be easily broken down and therefore cannot store energy in the way a C-C bond can. Contrast silicone oil, and petroleum - one is virtually inert, whilst the other is a fuel source. Life needs to be able to shuffle energy about, store it, and release it on tap. Carbon is just too well suited to these roles for other elements to do a comparable job.

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GFX

"Is that picture wallpaper for the Windows 8 desktop?"

It's a screenshot from a Wii U. :)

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Anonymous Coward

LOVE the CAPS in the title.

Comment in title.

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Facepalm

Will no one read Lovecraft's warnings?

Oh great. Someone is releasing the Shoggoths.

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Anonymous Coward

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.

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Alien

That was my first thought too...

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Coat

Quarantine the boffins!

They might have Vidian Phage! (Though George Costanza will cure it for us)

[The one with the Voyager box-set in the pocket]

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Thumb Up

Jumping Jupiter moon microbes

When are we going?

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Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

Wot, no shoggoth icon?

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