Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) scientists and engineers are applying their expertise from ocean research and exploration to modeling planetary systems and to building sensors that will help inform the search for life on ocean worlds beyond Earth.
Are we alone? It’s one of the most fundamental questions facing humanity: Is life unique to Earth or could it be common throughout the Universe? WHOI is poised to play an important role in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) increasing focus on ocean worlds which have the exciting potential to reveal evidence for life beyond Earth within the current human generation.
Ocean worlds are a group of planetary bodies in our outer solar system known to have liquid water oceans. Rather than existing inside the narrowly defined “Goldilocks Zone,” where water is required to exist on the surface, they contain vast oceans beneath a thick ice crusts. Many of them also have rocky seafloors like we have on Earth, raising the possibility that they could support chemosynthetic life similar to what we find at hydrothermal vents, cold seeps and other forms of seafloor fluid flow on Earth—both known and yet to be discovered.
This webinar features NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory astrobiologist Kevin Hand, WHOI marine microbiologist Julie Huber, WHOI marine geoscientist Chris German, and special guest, comedian Eugene Mirman