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在宇宙中寻找海洋

The hunt for oceans in space | The Economist

Water is vital to life
水对生命至关重要
on Earth and probably to life elsewhere.
无论是在地球 还是其他有生命的地方
This has led astronomers to become interested in oceans.
这让宇航员对海洋充满了兴趣
And to the discovery that oceans can be very different
与地球的开放天空相比
to those beneath the open skies of Earth.
他们发现海洋是如此的与众不同
On three of the moons of Jupiter,
在木星的三颗卫星
and two of the moons of Saturn,
和土星的两颗卫星上
there was good evidence of liquid oceans.
都发现了液态海洋存在的确凿证据
The first of these oceans to be discovered was within Jupiter’s moon Europa.
第一个被发现的海洋在木卫二上
Though Europa is small,
尽管木卫二体积很小
it may boast more liquid water than the Earth.
但是它的液态水存量可能超过地球
The ocean could be over 100 kilometers deep.
这片海洋的深度超过100千米
Heat generated by Jupiter’s powerful tides
木星强大潮汐产生的热量
keeps it warm underneath the icy shell.
使其在冰壳下依然保持温暖
Europe’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission, or JUICE,
欧洲木星冰卫星探测计划 又叫JUICE
will launch in 2022
将于2022年启动
to study Jupiter and three of its largest moons.
用以研究木星和它三颗最大的卫星
Perhaps one of the most promising oceans
也许可能性最大的海洋
for study is on Enceladus, a tiny moon of Saturn.
存在于土星的一个小卫星土卫二上
This is because the ocean does not stay under the ice cap.
因为这片海洋并不处于冰盖之下
Geysers at the moon’s south pole
该卫星南极点的间歇泉
shoot ocean water hundreds of kilometers out into space.
将海水喷射到数百千米的高空
Studies by NASA’s Cassini probe showed that
NASA的卡西尼号探测器显示
the water in these jets contain organic molecules,
这些喷射的水中包含有机分子
the building blocks of life.
它们是生命结构的组成单元
There is also evidence of hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean.
在海洋底部也有深海热泉存在的证据
This is significant because it is thought
这是至关重要的 原因在于
that life first arose at hydrothermal vents on Earth.
人们认为地球生命最早起源于深海热泉
A spacecraft flying through the jets of Enceladus
一架飞行穿过土卫二喷射水流的飞机
could sample the water for traces of complex
采取了部分水样品来探测化合物的痕迹
biological molecules such as DNA or protein.
比如DNA或蛋白质这样的生物大分子
There is no guarantee of life in the waters of Enceladus.
但不能保证土卫二上的水中存在生命体
Or in any of the solar system’s other hidden oceans.
或者在太阳系其它未被发现的海洋里存在生命
But the possibility that something might be there
但是依然存有一定的可能性
will drive ambitious explorations for decades to come.
这将驱动未来数十年对太空的伟大探索
Coming up, how to discover new planets?
来吧 怎样发现新行星呢?

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视频概述

本文介绍了太阳系中可能存在液态水的星体,并分析了是否存在生命的问题

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