Since then, we’ve learned even more about life in hostile locations, but we still don’t have a clear-cut yes or no. In a 2006 paper, oceanographer Karen Junge, along with Eicken, showed that bacteria can remain active in environments as cold as minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, though whether that activity is life-sustaining is unknown. That resiliency might hold up on Europa, where surface temperatures can reach minus 370 degrees.
In 2011, geophysicist Britney Schmidt determined that liquid water exists just beneath Europa’s surface. “Before, we only expected to find fluid under a hundred or hundreds of kilometers of ice,” Eicken says. “But now, potentially, it’s under just a few kilometers of ice.” And where there’s water, there could be life.