Does any one remember that movie The Thing? Well, we may be this close to turning that movie into a true story. A group of geologists from the University of Calgary’s Arctic Institute of North America recently discovered alien-like life forms living in yellow snow (watch out where the huskies go). The mysterious yellow snow bank was discovered on Ellesmere Island, northwest of Greenland. Temperatures there hang out around -5 degrees Fahrenheit so it’s no surprise that there are fewer than 200 permanent residents. The area is known for natural wonders like the fossils of a transitional fish on land animal found earlier this year.
The yellow snow comes from a sulfur spring that’s bubbling up under the glacier. The team found 20 different strains of bacteria growing in the sulfur spring. Now it gets a little freaky. You see Ellesmere Island is very similar to Europa, Jupiter’s ice-covered moon. Scientists at NASA know that the moon has an oxygen atmosphere and suspect that there is sulfur present as well. The 20 new strains of bacteria found right here on our planet, may be very similar to something possibly found on Europa.
There are no immediate plans for a NASA mission to Europa, but there are several comities within NASA that are lobbying for the mission. The site in Ellesmere provides scientists with a working model of what to look for on Europa. My question is how do we know that the bacteria on Ellesmere didn’t come from Europa in the first place?