The scientists searching for life on Jupiter

Gas giant: Jupiter is 318 times bigger than Earth. © NASA

Could there be life in Jupiter’s clouds? A study into possible life on Venus has shown that nothing could survive on the planet. But scientists hope for more luck on the gas giant, Jupiter.

What’s happening

Last year, a new study added hope to the theory that there was once life on Venus.

A year on, it seems life is less likely. But the studies have led to a surprising breakthrough. There might not be life on Venus, but there might be on Jupiter.

Find out more

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have been studying clouds on different planets.

Their research found that Jupiter’s clouds have the right water conditions to permit Earth-like life.

Dr John Hallsworth is one of the scientists working on the study. He explained: “One thing which we found which was unexpected was that the clouds of Jupiter actually have the right temperature and water activity combination to support active life.

“We absolutely hadn’t expected that.”

Jupiter is the biggest planet in the solar system and is the fifth planet from the Sun.

It is known as a gas giant because of its size – over 300 times greater than Earth. It also has gas rings and 67 moons.

Could there really be life in Jupiter’s clouds?

Some say…

Probably not. Jupiter is a gas giant. It has no solid ground. It can get as hot as 24,000C. The gases in the clouds are poisonous. The clouds are thick and the magnetic field is super strong. Even if life could exist in theory, there is no way anything could survive on the planet!

Others think…

Maybe! Life does not have to be exactly how we imagine it. Even though Jupiter would be an impossible home for humans, something different might love it there. The boiling temperatures and dangerous gases might be perfect for an alien lifeform. The best thing about the universe is that we know so little. Anything could be out there!

You Decide

  1. What is the most beautiful planet in the solar system?

Activities

  1. Draw a diagram of Jupiter. Include its rings and as many of its 67 moons as you can.

Some People Say...

“I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It's just been too intelligent to come here.”

Arthur C Clarke (1917 - 2008), English science fiction writer

What do you think?

Word Watch

Breakthrough
A sudden advance or success in research.
Conditions
The state and surroundings of a particular location.
Combination
The result of two or more things being put together, or combined.
Gas giant
A large planet with a solid core but a very thick atmosphere. The planet is mostly made of gas. There are four in our solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Rings
A ring made of dust and other particles orbiting around a planet in a flat disc shape.
Moons
Objects that orbit planets. There are about 170 moons in our solar system. Most of them orbit Jupiter and Saturn.
Poisonous
Destructive or harmful, something that threatens life.

Subjects

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