The Abominable Snow Aliens of Europa


A view of Europa in natural color (left) and in enhanced color designed to bring out subtle color differences in the surface (right). The bright white and bluish part of Europa’s surface is composed mostly of water ice. In contrast, the brownish mottled regions on the right side of the image may be covered by hydrated salts and an unknown red component. The yellowish mottled terrain on the left side of the image is caused by some other unknown component. Long, dark lines are fractures in the crust, some of which are more than 3,000 kilometers (1,850 miles) long. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

New York, New York: Astrobiology Magazine is proud to launch a new comic strip, “The Abominable Snow Aliens of Europa.”

Our new comic strip, “The Abominable Snow Aliens of Europa,” imagines what aliens from Europa might look like, and also shows what might happen if such creatures developed a space program and other advanced technology. Will “Europe-ans” visit Earth as part of a Cold War space race of their own, similar to our Apollo missions to the Moon? Would they, perhaps, quest to better understand their solar system, like with our many missions to Mars? Or do they have other motivations that are entirely alien to our own?

Jupiter’s moon Europa is a favorite of science fiction from Arthur C. Clarke’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey”, to the more recent movie “Europa Report” just released this year. Although any actual mission is years away, it makes a tantalizing target for astrobiologists. NASA’s Pioneer, Voyager, and Galileo spacecraft each flew by Europa, providing images and data of the intriguing moon. These images indicated that a salty water ocean may lie beneath its outer frozen crust.

Europa is squeezed and pulled by the immense gravity of Jupiter as it orbits the gas giant planet, and this “tidal flexing” likely generates heat in the moon’s interior.

“Life as we know it needs liquid water, elements like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur, and it needs some form of chemical or light energy to get the business of life done,” said Kevin Hand, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. who specializes in icy worlds.

Join us on Sundays as the story unfolds. Credit: Astrobiology Magazine

“Europa has the liquid water and elements, and compounds like peroxide that might be an important part of the energy requirement” Hand said in a recent NASA announcement.

Hand will be the star of the comic strip, and we will follow his adventures as his knowledge of Europa will be put to the test in previously unimagined ways.

Astrobiologists are keen to peek beneath Europa’s crazy-quilt patchwork ice, but missions to penetrate the ice and send a probe are decades away. In the meantime, we can only dream about what, if any, strange creatures might be swimming in that alien sea.

“We’re undertaking an enormous geophysical experiment, one where we don’t understand the full consequences,” says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who also will be featured in the comic strip. “What if someone else tried to do that deliberately?”

The series “The Abominable Snow Aliens of Europa” will feature a new episode every Sunday. Visit us each week to see how the story unfolds. The fate of the Earth hangs in the balance!

Contact: Pat Shannon at at Art Science Research Laboratory, publisher

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