One of the main focuses of scientists searching for alien life are bodies of water on far away planets and moons.
For instance, three lakes found beneath surface of Mars back in 2020 could be home to alien life on the red planet.
In October of that same year, NASA revealed that water had been discovered on Earth’s moon and in June of 2020 research suggested that a liquid ocean beneath Pluto’s icy surface could also contain alien life.
Fast forward to today and a new NASA study of Uranus’ large moons shows four of them may contain water.
“Re-analysis of data from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, along with new computer modeling, has led NASA scientists to conclude that four of Uranus’ largest moons likely contain an ocean layer between their cores and icy crusts,” reads a statement announcing the new research. “Their study is the first to detail the evolution of the interior makeup and structure of all five large moons: Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, Oberon, and Miranda. The work suggests four of the moons hold oceans that could be dozens of miles deep.”
This new study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, suggests the Uranian moons’ surfaces are “likely insulated enough to retain the internal heat that would be needed to host an ocean.”
Scientists also discovered “what could be a potential heat source in the moons’ rocky mantles, which release hot liquid, and would help an ocean maintain a warm environment.”
“When it comes to small bodies – dwarf planets and moons – planetary scientists previously have found evidence of oceans in several unlikely places, including the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, and Saturn’s moon Mimas,” said lead author Julie Castillo-Rogez of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “So there are mechanisms at play that we don’t fully understand. This paper investigates what those could be and how they are relevant to the many bodies in the solar system that could be rich in water but have limited internal heat.”
In addition to heat, chlorides, as well as ammonia, and salt are likely abundant in the oceans, providing a source of antifreeze.
Of course, further research is needed to determine if alien life is present on the moons of Uranus. Some of this research may take place when NASA finishes developing its Uranus Orbiter and Probe (UOP) mission.
“Finding oceans in the Uranian moons would increase the prospect that … ocean worlds are frequent in our solar system, and maybe — by extension — in other solar systems,” Castillo-Rogez told Space.com in an email.