NASA scientists postulate that a type of shrimp found in the Von Damm Spire in the Caribbean could reflect what life might look like in space, namely on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.
This theory stems from the fact that the shrimp in question manage to exist in very extreme conditions. How extreme? According to Sploid, the shrimp live at thermal vents which, in addition to being toxic, also manage to reach an astonishing 750 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, they are uninhabitable to most life forms. However, the vents also produce quantities of hydrogen sulfide, which the bacteria that feed the shrimp need to live.
To combat this problem, the shrimp swim in the waters just outside of the thermal vents, which are just cool enough for them to live. This places them in a space between regular, oxygenated ocean water and sulfide-rich water, which allows them to survive the thermal temperatures while also giving the bacteria the nutrients they need to live. This is one example of life in the Von Damm Spire, and shows why scientists are researching the ecosystem for samples of what life might look like on other planets.
As life on earth was only microbial for millions of years, scientists believe that any chance of life in space would be most likely microbial as well. Not only that, but Europa also contains many subsurface oceans underneath its icy surface, many of which are similar to the Von Damm Spire. Scientists also believe that extraterrestrial life in such oceans would only probably be able to exist through means such as thermal vents or places of extreme energy.