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Possible Europa Tectonics Could be Boon for Alien Life

Jupiter's intriguing moon Europa may have a very Earth-like quality -- its thick, icy crust appears to act like Earth's tectonic plates.

Published On 09/10/2014
6:00 AM EDT
This conceptual illustration of the subduction process (where one plate is forced under another) shows how a cold, brittle, outer portion of Europa's 20-30 kilometer-thick (roughly 10-20 mile) ice shell moved into the warmer shell interior and was ultimately subsumed. A low-relief subsumption band was created at the surface in the overriding plate, alongside which cryolavas may have erupted. | Noah Kroese, I.NK