Subglacial Environments and the Search for Life Beyond the Earth

Charles S. Cockell*, Elizabeth Bagshaw, Matt Balme, Peter Doran, Christopher P. Mckay, Katarina Miljkovic, David Pearce, Martin J. Siegert, Martyn Tranter, Mary Voytek, Jemma Wadham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most remarkable discoveries resulting from the robotic and remote sensing exploration of space is the inferred presence of bodies of liquid water under ice deposits on other planetary bodies: extraterrestrial subglacial environments. Most prominent among these are the ice-covered ocean of the Jovian moon, Europa, and the Saturnian moon, Enceladus. On Mars, although there is no current evidence for subglacial liquid water today, conditions may have been more favorable for liquid water during periods of higher obliquity. Data on these extraterrestrial environments show that while they share similarities with some subglacial environments on the Earth, they are very different in their combined physicochemical conditions. Extraterrestrial environments may provide three new types of subglacial settings for study: (1) uninhabitable environments that are more extreme and life-limiting than terrestrial subglacial environments, (2) environments that are habitable but are uninhabited, which can be compared to similar biotically influenced subglacial environments on the Earth, and (3) environments with examples of life, which will provide new opportunities to investigate the interactions between a biota and glacial environments.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAntarctic Subglacial Aquatic Environments
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781118670354
ISBN (Print)9780875904825
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameGeophysical Monograph Series


Dive into the research topics of 'Subglacial Environments and the Search for Life Beyond the Earth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this