UK Physicist Brian Cox suspects Pluto’s abundance of water might be a strong indicator for alien life.
It wasn’t so long ago that Pluto was being written off as just another space body, not a full-blown planet. But our interest immediately returned once New Horizons got close enough to capture some fantastic photos. Among these images was evidence of flowing ice and hints of underground bodies of water. According to UK physicist Brian Cox, that means Pluto might not just be an empty rock – it could be a home for alien life.
“[The New Horizons probe] showed you that there may well be a subsurface ocean on Pluto,” Cox explained. “Which means – if our understanding of life on Earth is even slightly correct – that you could have living things there.”
Cox isn’t the only one to note Pluto’s prominent water supply: Principal investigator Alan Stern added that Pluto has entire mountains made of the stuff. “The bedrock that makes those mountains must be made of H2O, water ice,” Stern said. “We see water ice on Pluto for the first time. We can be very sure that the water is there in great abundance.”
The bad news is that proving life exists on Pluto is incredibly difficult. The New Horizons satellite alone took nine years to get within 8000 miles, and we’re not about to send a manned team there anytime soon. A safer bet is to compare similar bodies closer to Earth. NASA is already planing a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, which should be much easier to get achieve.
That being said, we shouldn’t assume that complex life exists on Pluto – even Cox acknowledges any life forms are probably just single-celled organisms. Then again, scientists did dub one territory “Cthulhu Regio”, so maybe they know something we don’t.
Source: The Times, via Daily Mail