Document Detail

Energy cycling and hypothetical organisms in Europa's ocean.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  12449859     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
While Europa has emerged as a leading candidate for harboring extraterrestrial life, the apparent lack of a source of free energy for sustaining living systems has been argued. In this theoretical analysis, we have quantified the amount of energy that could in principle be obtained from chemical cycling, heat, osmotic gradients, kinetic motion, magnetic fields, and gravity in Europa's subsurface ocean. Using reasonable assumptions based on known organisms on Earth, our calculations suggest that chemical oxidation-reduction cycles in Europa's subsurface ocean could support life. Osmotic and thermal gradients, as well as the kinetic energy of convection currents, also represent plausible alternative sources of energy for living systems at Europa. Organisms thriving on these gradients could interact with each other to form the complex energy cycling necessary for establishing a stable ecosystem.
Dirk Schulze-Makuch; Louis N Irwin
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Astrobiology     Volume:  2     ISSN:  1531-1074     ISO Abbreviation:  Astrobiology     Publication Date:  2002  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-11-26     Completed Date:  2002-12-12     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101088083     Medline TA:  Astrobiology     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  105-21     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Energy-Generating Resources*
Oceans and Seas

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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