The Moon of Earth. Lifeless. Gray. Boring. I mean, fuck, seriously we once went up there to try and tap it’s bountiful
stock of space cheese and when we got there, there wasn’t any damn cheese to be found! Not even powdered,
freeze-dried government cheese! And not to be outdone, remember that old canard about the Moon keeping the
Earth’s rotation stable? Turns out that’s not even true, or at least not as relevant as we once thought. So it’s
desolate, has no resources to exploit and we don’t really need it to survive? Why even bother with a moon? Let’s
instead blow it out of the sky!
Surely a fate too good for you, Moon! (from Wikimedia Commons)
Okay, so maybe I am exaggerating a little – it’s probably advisable not to commit our collective efforts to a
International Moon Destruction program (at least not yet.) If not for wanton destruction, however, the news from the
lunar front will remain pretty quiet, particularly when compared to the moons of the other planets in the Solar
System. In fact, just this week, scientists have discovered that some the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are much
wetter (and more geologically active) than we previously thought.
This wasn’t quite what I was expecting from a Google Image search of “wet moon.” (DeviantArt, by artist Kiwi665)
Surely any dilletante-astronomer worth his or her salt was already aware of the possibility of liquid water under the
ocean with hydrothermal vents. We know water is necessary for life, and we also know any deep-water critters will
likely congregate around hydrothermal vents, so the possibilities of discovering life elsewhere in the Solar System
just got tantalizingly more likely!
…And wouldn’t that be something? (lifted from HuffingtonPost)
To discover Ganymede’s ocean (full article from the Christian Science Monitor,) NASA scientists pointed the
Hubble Space Telescope at Ganymede and look at the auroras generated by the moon’s magnetic field. On Earth,
these Northern Lights are also generated by the planet’s magnetic field (and the planet’s magnetic field, I’m
reasonably certain, is generated by all the damned souls in Hell running on giant hamster wheels for all eternity.)
Ganymede’s magnetic field should shift in sync with Jupiter’s, as they are so close together and Jupiter is so
fucking big that it will easily dictate the terms to its moon’s magnetic arrangement. But measurements of the
auroras showed a dampened effect to the shifting which can be best explained by the presence of a liquid ocean
under the ice sheets of Ganymede.
A kid playing with magnets and a jar of water was the most appropriate visual analogy I could find (and the most adorbs!) (Stolen from somewhere on Blogspot)
The evidence of water under Enceladus isn’t new, however the evidence for hydrothermal vents is. (Full article
straight from the horse’s mouth.) Observation was a bit more direct, and by a bit more direct, I mean “isn’t it damn
convenient that we sent a space probe to go to Saturn to take direct samples from the moon itself?!?” Yes, NASA
and the ESA’s ongoing Cassini mission, which has been paying discovery dividends about Saturn and its moons
for well over a decade now, has been measuring the dust particles spat out by Enceladus’ frozen volcanoes. (Yes,
you read correctly, FROZEN FUCKING VOLCANOES!) The size of these dust particles, which most likely come
from the moon’s rocky interior, are a clue to their origin – they are so small (6 to 9 nanometers) that they were
formed under hot conditions (in water at 90 degrees Celsius; near boiling) and ejected relatively quickly – moving
from the rocky interior, through the ocean and icy crust and out into space within a few months to a few years.
And really, on the scale of geology and astronomy, from core to orbit in a few years is like the blink of an eye. (Credit to NASA, of course!)
So what does this mean for the hunt for aliens? Well, there’s no evidence yet of these Little Green Mermen, but by
putting all these pieces together, we now have more promising candidates than ever before. The next step will be
to build a probe that can actually look for signs of life on one of these moons and, who the hell knows, maybe
even melt through the icy crust to actually explore these vast oceans!
Such missions are still in the very early planning stages, however, and are years from fruition. But don’t let any of
that discourage you, oh Internetizens! While we’re waiting around to find out for sure whether there’s
marine-based alien life in our backyard, the possibilities for cosplay and fantasy works are boundless, so set you
to your creative tasks! It’s nearly Comic-Con season and the quota for alien-mermaid mashups has not been fully
And let’s not forget about Rule 34! Get on with it, Internet! (I’m not sure where this is from, but it’s hosted on ytimg…)