Life requires a few basis ingredients raw materials, a solvent (water), and energy to drive it all.
It is believed that within our solar system, there are at least eight possible places where life can exist.
Possible places in our solar system:
The first and most obvious place for life within our solar system is Earth. Earth is powered by the nuclear fusion taking place in the heart of the Sun.
On Earth, it’s usually chlorophyll that converts this radiant energy into chemical compounds to energize our existence.
There is also hope that life could thrive on our sister planet Venus. David Grinspoon, at the Southwest Research Institute, notes that the thick, sulfuric acid-ridden clouds of this planet might be a stable environment for floating life.
He believes that there is a type of bacteria, named Venusian acidophiles, which can withstand the highly acidic environment on Earth. He asserts that, though unlikely, these bacteria might aid in the existence of life on this nearby planet.
Mars is also thought to be a planet where life could exist. The surface is reactive, dry and sterile. Furthermore there is evidence that there are watery aquifers a few hundred feet beneath the surface. These aquifers are kept warm by internal geological heat sources. And the planet is of course Sun powered as well.
Titan, the large moon of Saturn is also thought to be a possible place in our solar system where life can exist. The moon is far to cold for liquid water, but its air is thick with hydrocarbons.
It is suggested that the Sun’s ultraviolet light might break apart some of these atmospheric compounds, producing acetylene. If this gas fell into the methane and ethane below it could serve as food for microscopic life. It was once thought that the moon would be too cold, as it is not directly heated by the Sun.
However, Jupiter has multiple moons and these sibling moons interact with each other and stimulate heat amongst them selves. This interaction is known as tidal heating and is quite common. Tidal heating can best be described as the gravitational attraction from Jupiter and some if its other moons squeezing the satellite, making the surface expand slightly in some places and contract in others, causing friction and generating heat.
Another one of Jupiter’s many moons named Europa might support life. It is believed that this heated satellite has an ocean 10 miles beneath its surface; this is evident mostly from the ever-changing magnetic field. At the bottom of this ocean, there are volcanic vents that might be discharging nutrients and hot water, proving both the food and water for simple life.
Ganymede and Callisto are thought to have oceans hiding beneath their surfaces. These moons possess the same magnetic field variations that are found on Europa. However, these two satellites have a thicker ice exterior than Europa, making the possibility of life lass likely.
Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, may also be able to support life. This icy moon is spouting geysers of water into space. This evidence of liquid water and warmth provided by tidal heating make this moon a potentially habitable environment.
Within the nine-planet solar system, these are the eight worlds that the existence of life would be most probable. However, there are a few other environments that possess potential.
For example, there’s Neptune’s moon Triton, on whose surface the Voyager 2 spacecraft discovered geysers. Perhaps Triton is also a candidate for life. Then there are the short-period comets, which are routinely warmed by passage close to the Sun. They, too, might surprise one with habitable environments.