Genesis of Life » Implications for Life on Other Worlds

Before leaving this chapter let us cast our eyes on the possibilities of life on other planets. The discovery of the bizarre life forms at the thermal vents on Earth has revolutionised our concepts of the origins of life and the conditions under which it may exist. The idea of a Goldilocks position of a planet in relation to its star before it is possible for life of some sort to exist may be wrong. It may still hold for advanced life, such as complex plants and animals and human type life, but primitive life may have taken root in the most unlikely places. One of those 'places' is Jupiter's moon, Europa. This is a world slightly smaller than our own Moon which is totally encased in ice. There is now considerable evidence that beneath the ice is a deep planet-wide ocean. It is probable quite acidic from sulphuric acid and overlays silicate rocks. It is kept permanently liquid by tidal forces from Jupiter itself and from the two larger moons, Ganymede and Callisto. There is therefore every possibility that thermal vents may form beneath that strange and dismal abyss. Although it may be true that life has started, the possibility that it may have evolved beyond primitive archae and bacteria would seem to be very low, it will still be the beginning of that wierd and wonderful chemistry. Not only on Europa, but also on Ganymede and Callisto and on the distant moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, there may be regions well below the surface, where some form of primitive life has started to evolve. Life too may have begun in the ancient seas of Mars and in the forgotten oceans of Venus that were long ago destroyed by the run-away greennhouse effect that overtook that blighted world countless aeons ago.

Ray Goodwin

Somewhere there are mountains
Glistening in the snow
Somewhere there are mountains
That we shall never know

Somewhere there are rivers
Flowing fast and free
Somewhere there are rivers
That we can never see

Somewhere there are oceans
And sun drenched island sands
Forests full of creatures
In vastly distant lands

Somewhere there’s a planet
Beneath an alien star
The people watch our tiny sun
And wonder where we are

One day perhaps we’ll find them
Across the void of space
Perhaps through ways as yet unknown
We’ll meet them face to face

The author of this web site Ray Goodwin holds B.Sc. Degrees from London University in Chemistry, Geology and Physiology and an M.Sc. in Biochemistry. He has spent most of his professional life teaching in Colleges of Technology. On his retirement he has entered the fields of astronomy, astrochemistry, astrobiology and space sciences. He has spent a great deal of his retirement in visiting amateur astronomy societies and in attending European Space Agency Symposia in ESTEC in the Netherlands and other scientific conferences in England and Sweden. He regularly attends the yearly European Astrofest in South Kensington London and other meetings in the UK. He has written scientific articles and given a number of lectures on diverse scientific subjects.

Readers of this web site are invited to e-mail the author ( and discuss their opinions of the topics dealt with and suggest any changes which they think may be helpful.

Life in the Cosmos Website
Version 01.00 - April 20, 2015.