Near-freezing temperatures, extremely high pressures, heavy oil, and saltwater for food-sources are the perfect environment for life to emerge. This is the discovery made by scientists at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Geosciences, in Scotland. Accordingly, alien life on icy planets and exoplanets is possible.
The flammable ice in the Sea of Japan is the unexpected habitat and microbes are the proof of life’s new endurance level. Microbes thrive in the hostile environment, within tiny bubbles of oil and water found in sheets of frozen gas and ice. It looks like an amazing discovery, but is it?
It goes by different names: methane clathrate, methane hydrate, hydro methane, methane ice, fire ice, natural gas hydrate, or gas hydrate.
It is a solid clathrate compound in which a large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice. It was thought that methane clathrate occurs only in the outer regions of the Solar System, where temperatures are low and water ice is common.
Alien life on icy exoplanets is possible
Some significant deposits have been found under sediments on the ocean floors of the Earth: in deep Antarctic ice cores. Also, in the Siberian Arctic and Alaska.
Atmospheric methane concentrations were identified too, dating to 800,000 years ago. Methane hydrates were discovered in Russia in the 1960s. At the beginning of the 21st century, studies for extracting gas from it begun.
Trouble is that along with oxygen and carbon dioxide, the methane clathrate is a primary source of global warming. Being a greenhouse gas with around 25 times as much global warming potential as carbon dioxide, methane extraction is being investigated.
The sudden release of large amounts of natural gas from methane clathrate deposits has been hypothesized as a cause of the Permian-Triassic extinction event and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. If past climate changes happened, that means future disasters are also possible.