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Life In The Solar System Essay

939 words - 4 pages

The Solar System extends across such an immense amount of space it goes by its own measuring unit; the astronomical unit. The distance between the Earth and the Sun measures 1 astronomical unit. For instance, a journey to the edge of the Solar System would take 19 million years. For this reason, finding another planet with habitable conditions on which life could exist is highly likely. In particular, the key quality for life to be sustainable is for conditions that would allow water to maintain its liquid state. Two of the several locations scientists speculate that life may exist or did exist on, is Mars and Europa. There are three key environmental requirements of life. Firstly, a source of elements and molecules that possesses the ability to build living organisms. Secondly, a source of energy to establish growth and metabolism is also required, alongside the presence of a liquid medium to transport the molecules of life, which is the last environmental requirement for life as we know it to exist. The main reason for this speculation is due to the most important factor of there being evidence for the presence of liquid water on Mars and Europa. Mars, also known as ‘The Red Planet’, has a changing surface just like other terrestrial planets such as Earth. Its surface changes due to factors such as; the shift of its crust, volcanism, impacts from debris and dust storms. Europa is the sixth closest moon belonging to the planet Jupiter. Its surface consists of water ice with huge cracks on the ice. In addition, Europa also contains a sub-surface ocean, which is due to its tidal heating effect allowing for melted ice to exist. In the current period of the 21st century, liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars because of a few reasons, one being that the temperatures are so cold that liquid water would instantaneously freeze into ice, or the liquid water would immediately evaporate due to the low air pressure. However, evidence proves that Mars once had great amounts of water flowing, which suggests scientists to believe life may have existed on Mars. Orbital evidence proves that the patterns of the channels in the picture above were produced by the flow of running water two to three billion years ago. This evidence demonstrates that during some previous time period, Mars was stable enough to maintain liquid water below or on the surface. Therefore, since it was once stable enough to contain liquid water one can infer that Mars once had a thicker atmosphere with a warmer temperature. Secondly, the existence of hydrated minerals, such as clay minerals; which can only be formed in the presence of liquid water, have been discovered at several locations on Mars.This could also suggest that Mars was able to...

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