Although Jupiter itself cannot endure life as we know it, its moons are believed to contain enormous amounts of water, a necessary condition for life.
An international team of scientists have come to the conclusion that clouds near Jupiter can support life. According to research recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy, researchers measured the activity of water in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Venus using data from different scientific probes.
Clouds near Jupiter have “the right combination of temperature and water activity” to support Earth-like life, according to the study.
Dr John Hallsworth, who described the discovery as “profound” and “interesting” said: “We weren’t expecting it at all.” At the same time, he said that one should not be in a rush to hypothesize that the fifth planet from the Sun has or has life.
Scientists note that more research will be needed to understand whether microbial life can exist in clouds near the gaseous planet.
In addition, the researchers claim that their study also refutes a study conducted by American astronomers last year which claimed that Venus can sustain life because it has phosphine in its clouds. It is a poisonous gas on which bacteria can thrive.
However, the latest research suggests that the clouds near Venus are primarily composed of sulfuric acid, which destroys the cellular structures that support life. Clouds near Venus also have very low concentrations of water molecules, making it impossible to maintain even the most resistant microorganisms.
The discovery disappointed researchers because it had long been believed that Venus could be a candidate for the search for extraterrestrial life.
“Unfortunately, our conclusions are based directly on measurements. It is not a model with assumptions,” said Professor Christopher McKay, NASA researcher and co-author.
The researchers also point out that their method of determining water activity could be used outside our solar system and help humanity seek life beyond Earth.