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SPACE researchers believe they are on the verge of proving aliens really DO exist in our universe.
They say the discovery of extraterrestrial life is now not only “inevitable” but also “imminent.”
The news comes as two space probes are preparing to head to a mystery moon 390 million miles away from Earth to scour beneath its icy surface.
“Discovery (0f life) now seems inevitable and possibly imminent,” says University of Melbourne researcher Cathal O’Connell.
“It seems inevitable other life is out there, especially considering that life appeared on Earth so soon after the planet was formed.”
The expert said if it is proved once and for all that humans are not alone it would change everything.
“A discovery, if it came, could turn the world of biology upside down,” said O’Connell.
“Bacteria, fungus, cacti and cockroaches are all our cousins and we all share the same basic molecular machinery.
“A second sample of life, though, might represent a ‘second genesis’ – totally unrelated to us.”
If signs of life are eventually found on Jupiter’s moon Europa – it could mean the Universe is actually teeming with aliens.
“It would greatly increase the chances that, somewhere among those billions of habitable planets in our galaxy, there could be something we could talk to,” said O’Connell.
In some ways, however, discovering similarities with human life would be even more radical, reports news.com.
It would mean panspermia – the theory the the formula for life was seeded via comets and meteorites – has genuine merit.
“As Mars was probably habitable before Earth, it is possible life originated there before hitchhiking on a space rock to here. Perhaps we’re all Martians, ” said O’Connell.
Either way, frozen Europa could well have all the answers.
And when the Voyager 1 space probe flashed past in 1979, scientists were stunned by what they saw.
It had shapely canyons, troughs and ridges and there were hardly any craters.
That sparked the theory that water regularly welled up from beneath, remoulding and refreshing the surface.
However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that some of Europa’s secrets were unlocked.
The Galileo probe found strong evidence there were oceans twice as big as Earth’s beneath the ice and they seemed salty.
Geologists were quick to point out that meant the water must be interacting with rocks and benefiting from nutrients and minerals from the moon’s solid core.
“It may well be normal table salt (sodium chloride) – just like on Earth, says Lancaster University researcher Chris Arridge.
“This has important implications for the potential existence of life in Europa’s hidden depths.”
Both new space probes – Clipper and Juice – will carry a variety of sensors to peer beneath the ice and measure the minute fluctuations in the moon’s gravity.
These are caused by changes in the density of whatever is beneath – such as a mountain range, or a mineral deposit.
Planetary scientists expect the ice to be somewhere between 10 and 15 miles thick, however it is hoped it is much thinner in some places.
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