Scientists have long held out hope that life might be found on Europa, a moon of Jupiter which has an ice cap like Earth’s.
This is because underneath the ice is an extensive ocean – and water is usually a sure sign of life.
But now researchers suggest that the ocean may in fact be too acidic to support the vast majority of lifeforms.
The revelation will come as a bitter disappointment to those who have been avidly searching for evidence of life on other planets.
Scientists reached the conclusion by examining chemicals on the surface of Europa, according to Space.com.
These compounds are oxidants, such as hydrogen peroxide and oxygen, which can bond with other chemicals to create new compounds.
Oxidants can be crucial to the development of life – oxygen, of course, is fundamental to many living organisms on Earth.
But on Europa, researchers believe, they are likely to bond with sulphides to creates acidic substances such as sulphuric acid.
This would drive the overall acidity of the ocean down to pH 2.6 – the same as a can of Coke.
Daily Mail, 5 March 2012. Full article.