Scientists have found a new species of bacteria in the depths of the ocean, surviving in similar conditions as Jupiter’s moons.
Scientists have previously said that alien lifeforms may be found in the icy shell of Jupiter’s tiny moon Europa.
The surface of Europa is likely to have hot springs similar to ones found in the deep waters of the Earth’s oceans. The same conditions are thought to exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
A new species of bacteria called Sulfurimonas pluma, has been found to flourish in oxygen-rich water plumes hundreds of meters away from volcanic vents on the Earth’s ocean floors.
Astronomers believe these observations might further our understanding of the forms of alien life on these moons.
The newly discovered bacteria belongs to a family of bacteria that thrives in the Earth’s volcanic vents as it cannot tolerate high oxygen levels in water elsewhere.
A new study published this month in Nature Microbiology revealed that S. pluma had gone through unique genetic changes that allowed it to adapt to the broad range of environments in the Earth’s oceans.
‘It was a crescendo of excitement to see that these microorganisms were not only abundant but also highly active in the plume,’ Massimiliano Molari, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Germany, told Space.com.
Scientists found that the organism mainly used hydrogen to multiply, thanks to a genetic change that made the bacterium capable of getting energy from many sources.
Scientists have previously suggested that Saturn’s moon Enceladus might be a prime candidate for signs of life in space.
Observations made by Nasa’s Cassini mission which ended in 2017, showed the small moon contained an ice-covered ocean that erupts into space, forming plumes that contain most of the basic ingredients for life.
These vents are similar to the ones in which this new bacteria thrive.
Scientists hope those organisms will be detected by future missions like Nasa’s Europa Clipper in 2024 to study Europa’s habitability and the Enceladus Orbilander which will hunt for signs of life on that moon’s surface.
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