When looking for signs of alien life, most scientists consider whether there is water or not. However, researchers have found other ways of detecting alien life which include looking for certain bio-essential elements such as molybdenum and phosphorous.
Virtually, there exists life in areas with water on Earth which means that searching for life outside the planet focuses on habitable worlds with possessing temperatures which allow the hosting of liquid water on its surface. For instance, Venus’s surface is extremely hot buta study conducted in 2026 indicated that the planet may have been habitable about 715 million years ago. Some scientists have even speculated that if there was life in Venus once, then it still may survive withinits clouds.
Avi Loeb, the study senior author says that there are other vital ingredients needed to support life. For instance, On Earth, life in the oceans may require nitrogen and phosphorous. Thus, the researchers concentrated on their accessibility to areas with liquid oceans below frozen surfaces. Loeb says that people have always suspected that there is life in liquid water such as below ice in Europa and Enceladus and that’s why NASA and ESA are planning to send missions in such areas.
On Earth, phosphorous in oceans is as a result of weathering. The phosphorous is then removed by hydrothermal activity from the Earth’s seas. The researchers say that prior research indicates that there is existence of hydrothermal activity on Enceladus and Europa.
Radiation from Jupiter bathes the surface of Europa thus producing oxidants which then enter Europa’s hidden seas and react with sulfides making the water highly acidic. That means that Europa may have adequate life to support life even though the highly acidic oceans suffocate the chances for survival, said the researchers.
However, previous research implied that the underground oceans of Enceladus may be Alkaline. The scientists in the new study calculated that if a world’s oceans are alkaline and also possess hydrothermal activity, then removal of phosphorous from the subsurface ocean would occur in a very short time scale.
Other bio-essential elements suggested by the researchers include manganese, cobalt and molybdenum. Molybdenum is vital in fixing nitrogen into important organic molecules. It also impacts on protein synthesis in addition to metabolism and growth in organisms. Manganese helps in the generation of oxygen through photosynthesis in chloroplasts. On the other hand, cobalt plays a significant role in metabolism and comprises vitamin B-12.
The researchers, however, warned that although bio essential elements might be rare in a world, chances for life are higher in places that have patches of these elements.