The habitability of Europa: A cautionary note
Article first published online: 19 DEC 2012
©2002. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 83, Issue 21, page 231, 21 May 2002
How to Cite
2002), The habitability of Europa: A cautionary note, Eos Trans. AGU, 83(21), 231–231, doi:10.1029/2002EO000161., and (
- Issue published online: 19 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 19 DEC 2012
- Cited By
Despite the lack of empirical evidence, the hypothesized existence of a liquid water ocean beneath the icy surface of Europa is supported by enough indirect data—photographic, spectroscopic, magnetic, and gravitometric—to make the proposal plausible [Gaidos and Nimmo, 2000; Greenberg, 2002; Kivelson et al., 2000; Prockter and Pappalardo, 2000]. A number of planetary scientists have suggested that were a Europan ocean to exist, it could be inhabited, if only by primitive microbial organisms [Chyba and Phillips, 2002; Gaidos and Nimmo, 2000; Greenberg, 2002; Kargel et al., 2000; McKollom, 1999]. We argue that speculation concerning potential habitability, unlike the Europan ocean hypothesis, is data-deficient. Engaging as this speculation may seem, a greater measure of caution should be exercised when elaborating a supportive framework of arguments.