Alternative energy sources could support life on Europa
Article first published online: 29 DEC 2012
©2001. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 82, Issue 13, page 150, 27 March 2001
How to Cite
2001), Alternative energy sources could support life on Europa, Eos Trans. AGU, 82(13), 150–150, doi:10.1029/EO082i013p00150., and (
- Issue published online: 29 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 29 DEC 2012
- Cited By
Energy pervades the solar system in a variety of forms, including electromagnetic and particle radiation, magnetism, heat, kinetic motion, and gravitational interactions. Life on Earth is sustained by the conversion of light and chemical energy into proton gradients across membranes that drive the phosphorylation of high-energy intermediate metabolites.
The use of light and reduced chemical bonds as energy sources is not surprising on Earth, where the intensity of light is strong and an oxidizing atmosphere favors energy-yielding chemical reactions. However, any naturally occurring energy gradient that generates charge separation across boundary layers could theoretically yield the free energy needed to sustain life. Using specific, plausible examples from Jupiter's ice-covered satellite Europa, we propose that alternative energy sources could sustain life where neither light nor an oxidizing atmosphere is available.