Prospects for Oxygen-Breathers in Europa

An MSNBC news-bite covering a recent study by Richard Greenberg, long time Europa researcher, which quantifies the delivery of oxygen, produced by photolysis of surfaces ices, to the ocean beneath. The ocean seems to be highly oxygenated and, Greenberg estimates, able to support a macro-fauna mass of 3 million tons.

Kind of old news since I’ve discussed it before, but new to MSNBC. The juxtaposition of that news-bite with the arXiv-org blog’s coverage of this paper: A natural mechanism for l-homochiralization of prebiotic aminoacids …which explicates an elegant solution to the homochirality of biomolecules via convection around a deep-sea vent. Yes, as simple as that. Apparently amino acid crystals, alanine for example, form slightly larger crystals in one mirror-form than the other. That disparity is enough for one chirality to accumulate in excess, then gradually convert the other form into its own chiral state. Easy.

And Europa’s chief heat-source? Deep-sea vents, or the equivalent thereof.