Life on Europa #1

There is a bit of a story to this one.
Science and astronomy are interests of mine and scientists believe of all the places in our solar system a moon of Jupiter called Europa might actually harbor life. They believe there may be an ocean beneath its icy surface and it might be a salt water ocean, and might even be within a temperature range which could sustain life. In fact, there are many plans for missions to explore the possibility of a real ocean on Europa.

So, IF there really is life there, what might it look like? It would most certainly be a dark place far from the sun and primarily receiving light only from Jupiter. It might be a surprisingly warm ocean thanks to the tug and pull of Jupiter against its various other moons. (This stress causes volcanic activity.) Radiation is also going to be very high there thanks to Jupiter. So could life be possible in such a hostile place? And if so, what would it be like?

Well if we look at our own planet, when the first deep ocean vehicles finally made it to the bottom of the sea, instead of a dark dead place we expected it was in fact teeming with life! Tube worms and pale crabs and all living on what? There is NO sunlight down that deep. The chain of life as we surface dwellers know it depends on plant life. None exists down there. However, bacteria thrive on the sulfur rich and very hot water emanating from the hot volcanic vents. Something no one expected, and so the food chain starts there and a very rich eco system thrives. So would it be so hard to imagine life could in fact exist in what we would consider a toxic uninhabitable environment on another world?

I believe IF there were life it would probably be in the form of simple sea creatures. Possibly bio luminescent, and most definitely strange! This is my concept.

(be sure to check out Life on Europa #2 for a little humor.)

Research before begining.
I started looking up reference photos on the NASA web site before beginning this painting. I quickly found a few good shots of Europa and itís cracked icy surface, but something was strange here. Some shots I found showed Jupiter as a small dot. Others showed Europa as if it were a small marble orbiting a huge beach ball! If you were standing on the surface of Europa, just how big would Jupiter look?

So, and I donít remember how I found this person, I wrote to some contact I found on one of NASAís pages. It just so happened this person was a scientist studying Europa! Very cool indeed. As he explained, the photos showing Jupiter as this huge thing filling the sky were taken with equipment designed to shoot distant galaxies but were actually in orbit around Jupiter. In other words, itís a lens thing. In actuality, he told me to go outside and hold up a ruler against the moon. Jupiter would be six times as big if you were standing on Europa. Impressive but not something filling the sky. (Might make for a good sci-fi image but not realistic.)

Bearing that all in mind, Jupiter in actual size would be about six inches if you held a ruler up in front of it. And in the paintings, itís just about that size. Just like if you were standing there.

Final note, I wish I still had this NASA scientists name. It was a very long time ago I started this project. In fact, I painted this first in oils and only after that painting sat around for awhile did I realize my oil glaze mix turns yellow in time. Something I have been experimenting with for a while now. I got disgusted with the whole idea and only recently decided I need to finish this. However, both my Europa paintings are now in acrylic only. They will NOT yellow! I wont be adding any oils to the site for quite some time. I want to be sure my glaze mix stays clear.

Life on Europa #1 Life on Europa
Acrylic on canvas. (over an inch deep and the edge painted black. No frame.)
28 x 40"

artmaker sworlds
fine art sphere Sea gallery at a glance Gallery of everything Betwixt Space gallery at a glance
  | Home | buying art | e-mail |
Everything is Relative Explorer Wierd World Where Icy Rocks Dance Life on Europa 1 Life on Europa 2

All images property of Jenny Mehlenbeck. © 1997 - now, all rights reserved.