Plate Tectonics on Europa Boost Odds for Finding Life

On Earth, the theory of plate tectonics describes the way large pieces of the planet’s crust move and interact. These pieces, or plates, slide over the mantle, the malleable outer layer of Earth’s core. Now, new research indicates that the frozen surface of Europa, one of Jupiter’s four largest moons, may also experience plate tectonics. If so, this process could be a way to transport materials — such as nutrients for life — to the liquid water ocean just beneath the moon’s icy crust.

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