4-8 October 2015
Hans Harnack Haus
Europe/Berlin timezone
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Contribution Poster (WITHDRAWN)

Poster session

Biochemistry of Icy Solar System Moons


  • Dr. Dave CLEMENTS

Primary authors


Within the past decade, discoveries about icy moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn have sparked exciting possibilities for life in the outer Solar System. The only environments in our Solar System other than the Earth with clear evidence of liquid water are Europa and Enceladus, moons of Jupiter and Saturn respectively, that have plumes of water vapour and a variety of molecules extending from their surfaces These out-gassing molecules give a unique insight to sub-surface conditions and a potentially complex chemistry in the warm layers below the surface ice. We present new ground-based molecular line observations for both Enceladus and Europa taken with the JCMT and APEX. We find a clear detection of methanol (CH$_3$OH) from the Enceladus plumes and a 4-$\sigma$ detection of formaldehyde (H$_2$CO) from Europa. Using these detections of complex organic molecules, we discuss the possible environment below the surface of these moons and the likelihood for life existing in the outer Solar System.