Discoveries in Astronomy Copernicus in Color



There is a bizarre rocky landscape, well hidden from our prying eyes, in the secretive shadows under the oceans of our Earth. Here, in this strange and alien domain, it is always as dark as midnight. Thin, tall towers of craggy rock emit billows of black smoke from their peaks, while all around the towers stand a weird, wavy multitude of red-and-white, tube-like organisms--that have no eyes, no intestines, and no mouth. These 3-foot-long tubeworms derive their energy from Earth itself, and not from the light of our nearby Sun--a feat that most biologists did not believe possible until these wormish creatures were discovered back in 2001. The extremely hot, superheated black water, billowing out from the hydrothermal vents erupting on Earth's seafloor, provides high-energy chemicals that sustain the tubeworms, as well as other weird organisms that apparently thrive in this very improbable habitat. Therefore, the results of the new study support the idea that primitive life could potentially have evolved on Ganymede. This is because places where water and rock interact are important for the development of life. For example, some theories suggest that life arose on our planet within hot, bubbling seafloor vents. Before the new study, Ganymede's rocky seafloor was believed to be coated with ice--not liquid. This would have presented a problem for the evolution of living tidbits. The "Dagwood sandwich" findings, however, indicate something else entirely--the first layer on top of Ganymede's rocky core might be made up of precious, life-sustaining salty water. Jupiter is the fifth planet from our Star, the Sun, and it is more than twice as massive as all of the seven other major planets combined! Its immense mass weighs-in at an incredible 318 times that of the Earth.