How Scientists Discovered Ice in Places It Shouldn't Exist

Finding ice in places where it doesn’t normally exist was once thought to be impossible. Scientists have now discovered that a specific type of ice can form even in high-temperature environments, such as volcanic vents found deep under the Earth’s oceans, which could impact our understanding of water-rich planets such as Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
How Scientists Discovered Ice in Places It Shouldn't Exist

How Scientists Discovered Ice in Places It Shouldn't Exist

This discovery could impact the search for life beyond Earth, as the presence of water and heat are the two most important factors in searching for life elsewhere in the universe.

When ice shouldn’t exist

  1. The discovery could have implications for how scientists understand water on icy exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars other than our sun.
  2. Icy planets closer to their parent star may lose their surface ice because of high temperatures; however, when a planet is farther away from its star, like some of those discovered outside our solar system (known as exoplanets), that ice shouldn’t disappear. 
  3. The new form of ice could change scientists’ understanding of water on exoplanets and help them figure out which distant worlds are most likely to harbor life.

The secret to finding new forms of ice

The team of NASA researchers led by physicist Joseph Maclennan was looking for new forms of ice. To do so, they relied on help from a ground-based telescope operated by East Anglia University in eastern England.

But how did they end up with something that didn’t fit their initial search parameters? In a study published today in Science Advances, Maclennan and his colleagues explain that their original objective was to find traces of water embedded inside rock samples brought back from Mars by NASA’s Spirit rover—this turned out to be unsuccessful.

What this means for distant planets

  • Astronomers have discovered ice in an asteroid belt called the Kuiper Belt.
  • The water-rich planet and comets located within that belt could be ripe for life because they're packed with potentially life-supporting ingredients like water, which is often found deep below Earth's surface.
  • The fact that scientists found ice on a distant planet means that there could also be hidden pockets of liquid water in places where it shouldn't exist, such as deep within other planets.
  • Hidden pockets of liquid water could give rise to complex plant and animal life on worlds outside our solar system, meaning there's hope for finding extraterrestrial life within our galaxy.

The future of research

With new technologies coming online almost every day, research is never ending. As a scientist, you’ll need to be able to adapt as new methods become available. The pace of discovery moves very quickly and new discoveries are often followed by more questions than answers.

This means you can’t just consider your research complete when you think it’s finished—you have to keep up with current trends and emerging technology so that your work will always be relevant.
SOURCE : Yasoquiz

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