Gravity Corridors, Alien Moons, and the Creatures Below

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Diane Tessman's picture

In all our exotic theories on the origins of aliens, do we neglect the possibility that they come from within our Solar System?

Scientists in 2012 tend to agree that there is no advanced life in the Solar System except on Earth. However, in recent years scientists have also given us astounding new information on  several of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, and we have our questions about life on Mars!

Are the scientists wrong to dismiss the possibility of higher life-forms in the huge H2O ocean of Saturn’s 6th largest moon, Enceladus, for instance? We know that the dolphins, porpoises, whales, and other sea mammals of Earth possess a higher form of intelligence – an intelligence which we have yet to fully understand. There is some evidence that aliens may communicate with our sea mammals.

If we do find higher forms of sea life, such as the illustration above, then who is to say that those higher forms did not evolve into a space-going race as the eons progressed? It is difficult to perceive how an Enceladusian microbe might have evolved into a highly intelligent alien who cruises around our skies in a UFO; it is still possible in the unimaginable splendor of the universe, but it is difficult to imagine.

However, an Enceladusian creature might look like the artwork above. Certainly this is not a microbe but a complex sea creature. We can see how she might have branched on her evolutionary path, and become a space going species.

The exciting possibly of finding some form of higher life within our Solar System is that we have a realistic chance of exploring these other worlds; just maybe we can get to them in the next 25 years! A brand new possibility for exploring the Solar System is being developed, but before details on gravity corridors, let’s look at the five most likely worlds in the Solar System which might support higher life-forms:    

1. Enceladus
The sixth-largest moon of Saturn has been called the most promising bet for life thanks to its moderate temperature and the presence of water and simple organic molecules. The surface of the icy moon is thought to be about 99 percent water ice, with a good chance of liquid water beneath. Observations from the Cassini probe’s 2005 flyby of Enceladus suggest the presence of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen — organic molecules thought to be necessary to develop life.  This moon of Saturn has a boiling core of molten rock that could heat the world to warm enough temperatures needed to give rise to life. (Image: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA)


2. Europa
Jupiter’s moon Europa also seems a possible stomping ground for aliens due to its potential water and volcanic activity. Though the surface is frozen, many suspect that buried underneath is an ocean of liquid water. Volcanic activity on the moon could provide life-supporting heat, as well as important chemicals needed by living organisms. Europa has water volcanoes spewing far into space. Microbial life could potentially survive near hydrothermal vents on Europa, as it does on Earth.(Image: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA; reprocessed by Ted Stryk)

3. Mars
As far as planets go, by far the front-runner for life is our next-door neighbor, Mars. The red planet is the most Earth-like of solar system planets, with a comparatively similar size and temperature range as our own planet. Large bodies of water ice lie on Mars’ poles, and there’s a reasonable chance of liquid water beneath the surface. The puny atmosphere on the planet is not strong enough to shield the planet against lethal solar radiation, though microbes could potentially exist beneath the surface. Evidence also suggests that Mars may have been even more habitable in the past. We have all gazed at those weird photos from NASA with images which look like artificial buildings, monorail tracks, and monuments. Geologic features imply that liquid water once flowed across the surface, and volcanic activity, now dead, once flourished, recycling chemicals and minerals between the surface and the interior. (Image: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA))

4. Titan
Saturn’s largest moon looks suspiciously like it might host or have hosted life, because its thick atmosphere is rich in compounds that often mark the presence of living organisms. For instance, Titan’s air is filled with methane, which is usually destroyed by sunlight. On Earth, life constantly replenishes methane, so it might similarly be responsible for the methane on Titan. Titan is rather cold, however, and if liquid water exists, it must be deep beneath the frozen surface. (Image: NASA)

5. Io
Jupiter’s moon Io is one of the few solar system moons to support an atmosphere, and it contains complex chemicals promising for life. Volcanism on the moon also makes it warmer than many others — another good sign. Io is still a long shot, though, because its location inside Jupiter’s magnetic field means it is constantly being pelted with lethal radiation. Its violent surface also seems inhospitable, with temperatures often too cold to support life, as well as molten hot spots that are equally deadly.(Image: The Galileo Project, JPL, NASA)

We have seen on Earth that some life can adjust to relatively large doses of constant radiation as well as the advanced life-forms which thrive in the extreme depths and blackness of our oceans. These are not just microbes but octopuses, crabs, and other complex life-forms.

But, how can we get to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn in a reasonable amount of time to see and perhaps meet the aliens who live there? How can human beings ever travel fast enough?

The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, recently ran a fascinating article on a new possibility for space travel. Here is the information given in this article of September 11, 2009:

Gravitational corridors could help spacecraft fly across the solar system like ships on ocean currents. Scientists in the United States are trying to map the twisting 'tubes' so they can be used to cut the cost of space travel. Each one acts like a gravitational Gulf Stream, created from the complex interplay of attractive forces between planets and moons.

Depicted by computer graphics, the pathways look like strands of spaghetti that wrap around planetary bodies and snake between them. The pathways connect sites called Lagrange points where gravitational forces balance out.

Professor Shane Ross, from Virginia Tech in the US, said: “Basically the idea is there are low energy pathways winding between planets and moons that would slash the amount of fuel needed to explore the solar system. These are free-fall pathways in space around and between gravitational bodies. Instead of falling down, like you do on Earth, you fall along these tubes. Each of the tubes starts off narrow and small and as it gets further out it gets wider and might also split.”


“I like to think of them as being similar to ocean currents, but they are gravitational currents. If you're in a parking orbit round the Earth, and one of them intersects your trajectory, you just need enough fuel to change your velocity and now you're on a new trajectory that is free.”

“Riding one of the gravitational currents was unlike exploiting the 'slingshot' effect of a planet or moon's gravity, a routine space travel technique,” he explains. “Slingshots don't put you in orbit round a moon, whereas this does.”

Just one U.S. mission so far has made use of the concept. The Genesis spacecraft was launched in 2004 to capture solar wind particles and return them to Earth. Following the gravitational pathways allowed the amount of fuel carried by the probe to be cut 10-fold. The mission ended in failure, but only because a parachute failed on landing.

“The corridors were especially useful for voyaging between a planet's moons,” said Prof Ross, speaking at the British Science Festival at the University of Surrey in Guildford.

“Once you get to another planet that has its own tubes you can use them to explore its moons,” he added. “You could travel between the moons of Jupiter essentially for free. All you need is a little bit of fuel to do course corrections.”

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Perhaps someday humans in starships can find the gravity corridors between the Solar System and the Alpha Centuri System. After all, they must exist!

Is this how aliens from far distant star systems travel to Earth? It is a possibility! However, let’s not forget those alien oceans within the Solar System which are huge and deep, apparently, and brimming with the stuff of life: Water!

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