Water World

A deep ocean on a distant moon may have all the right ingredients for life

Let's get two things straight. First, we don't know if there are fish on Europa, one of Jupiter's largest moons. Second, we don't know there aren't any.

What we do know is that Europa has water--perhaps a vast, globe-girdling ocean up to 100 miles deep, beneath a rind of fractured ice as little as 10 miles thick. And all that's missing to make Europa's ocean like Earth's oceans--in other words, habitable--are salt and organic compounds.

Now, thanks to new surveys conducted with the Keck II telescope in Hawaii, we know those ingredients are there, adding critical seasonings to what could, just...

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