Canada: A NASA satellite’s detection of a faint yellow stain on an ancient glacier in the Canadian Arctic is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the search for life beyond Earth. The yellowish tinge on a remote patch of the Great White North is caused by microbes interacting with a sulphur spring bubbling up from below the ice of the Borup Fjord Pass on Ellesmere Island, Canada’s northernmost major land mass.
Scientists have long known about the one-of-a-kind feature, described by NASA as a place “like none other on Earth.” But the discovery by a Canada-U.S. research team that the sulphur spring can be pinpointed by infrared sensors, housed in an orbiting spacecraft, fuels hope that a probe sent to Jupiter could detect similar chemical signals on one of its moons, Europa. The ice-covered sphere has dark regions that are suspected to be sulphur deposits and possible hotbeds of microbial activity in other words, alien life.
Located 600 million kilometres from Earth and smaller than our moon, Europa is described by NASA as “near the top of the short list of places in our solar system that might harbour extraterrestrial life.” That’s because scientists believe the distant moon is covered in ice that “might conceal an ocean of liquid water,” a prime prerequisite for life.
Source: Montreal Gazette