Simulating a Submarine Hydrothermal Vent
A team of scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is testing whether organic molecules can be brewed in a simulated ocean vent. Lauren White, a member of the NASA Astrobiology Icy Worlds team, is turning on the valve that will send ocean water through a sample of material mimicking volcanic crust to see if organic molecules can be detected in the outflow. Scientists will be alternating flows of ocean water with alkaline fluid (that comes from inside hydrothermal vents) to create conditions similar to the circulation found at the bottom of an ocean on the early Earth or icy moons orbiting Jupiter or Saturn.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech