Thursday, April 14, 2022

Life on Io?

I was watching Star Trek: Picard season two on Paramount+ and (slight spoiler) someone was said to find sentient life on Io.

Io (pronounced eye-oh) is the inner-most Galilean moon, that is, one of the four moons discovered by Galileo in 1610.  Due to its proximity with Jupiter, tidal forces keep the moon's core molten and there are numerous volcanoes on the moon spewing molten sulfur.  Some of the volcanoes shoot the sulfur 200 miles above the surface.

My immediate thought was "no way." Io is a very hostile environment. I've been doing research on Io for a book I'm hoping to bring out soon. Io has volcanos with molten sulfur leaving them at over 2,400 miles per hour (I calculate that here and confirm it here). Sulfur dioxide is the primary constituent of a thin atmosphere on Io. Its surface is mostly that sulfur dioxide plus silicas. Io contains little or no water.

There is hardly a moon/planet with a less hospitable environment for life. Especially in our Solar System. 

But, then I thought about what I wrote on this very blog about how we have found life in the most unexpected places. 

So... maybe? It might have to be silicon based, not carbon based.

Life I can see. Sentient life (that has never been mention in Star Trek canon before) is a bit hard to swallow. 

Maybe later I'll do a blog post about all the problems I have about Picard season two. Maybe.

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