Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SETI Institute

Europa, the second moon of Jupiter, is encased in a thick crust of ice. Sitting far from the Sun, it's one of the last places you would expect to harbor life. But due to its elliptical orbit around Jupiter — it periodically swings closer and further from the giant planet — the differences in gravity flex and squeeze the core, heating it to molten temperatures.

The end result: Buried under 100 kilometers of rock-hard ice is a globe-spanning liquid water ocean. More liquid water than on the Earth. But is there life?

Why it matters: New simulations suggest the icy shell is broken into segments that shift, flex, and subduct, just like the Earth's crust. Essential nutrients on the surface could then make their way to the ocean, providing a possible pathway for life —permanently locked away from sunlight — to survive.

Go deeper

24 seconds ago - Politics & Policy

"Anonymous" senior Trump official revealed as ex-DHS chief of staff Miles Taylor

Miles Taylor in a Republican Voters Against Trump ad. Screenshot via YouTube

Former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor on Wednesday publicly claimed to be the author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed that described a "resistance" within the Trump administration working to thwart President Trump's agenda.

Why it matters: Taylor already publicly endorsed Joe Biden in a video funded by Republican Voters Against Trump in August, accusing the president of wanting to "exploit the Department of Homeland Security for his own political purposes and to fuel his own agenda."

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests, Trump's testing czar saysMask mandates help control rise in hospitalizations Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Surge is sinking consumer confidence Testing is a windfall.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. World: Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month Putin mandates face masks.

Parties trade election influence accusations at Big Tech hearing

Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

A Senate hearing Wednesday with Big Tech CEOs became the backdrop for Democrats and Republicans to swap accusations of inappropriate electioneering.

Why it matters: Once staid tech policy debates are quickly becoming a major focal point of American culture and political wars, as both parties fret about the impact of massive social networks being the new public square.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!