Silent witnesses

How geochemistry tells about climate and environments

NASA: Extreme shrimp may hold clues to alien life

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Shrimp crawling around rock chimneys spewing hot water deep in the Caribbean Sea may hold clues to the kinds of life that can thrive in extreme environments on other planets, NASA says.

The shrimp are called Rimicaris hybisae (no, we can’t pronounce it either). They live in clumps on hydrothermal vents 7,500 feet underwater, where temperatures reach 750 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s very, very dark.

The water near the vents is cool enough for the shrimp to live in. The very hot water spewing from the vents is where their dinner is cooked.

The shrimp dine on carbohydrates produced by bacteria living inside the vents. So what does that have to with space aliens? If these bacteria can survive in these extreme conditions of Earth, maybe it can happen on other worlds, such as Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean.

“For two-thirds of the Earth’s history, life…

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