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Scientists look at icy moons in search of alien life

Kevin Hand

Sanden Totten / KPCC

Kevin Hand shows off a poster with Earth and all the other planets and moons scientists life may exist. Hand points to Saturn's moon Enceladus which is smaller than Earth's moon.

Kevin Hand

Sanden Totten / KPCC

NASA researcher Kevin Hand stands next to a shiny metal machine used to create conditions similar to those on icy moons like Europa. He calls it "Europa in a can."

Europa in a can

Sanden Totten / KPCC

Using these knobs, Kevin Hand is able to combine ingredients like water, methanol and hydrogen sulfide to simulate the atmosphere on distant moons inside a containment chamber in his lab.


Mars once seemed the best candidate for finding alien life in our solar system. These days though, scientists think icy moons like Europa and Enceladus are more likely to harbor living creatures than the Red Planet.

That's because there's growing evidence suggesting some moons have vast oceans of water flowing under their icy surfaces.

KPCC's science reporter Sanden Totten has the story


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