Nothing is better than watching the winter melt into spring. The sun has been staying out later, and I have been, too, mostly with the intention of catching as much light as possible before the chilly night settles in. I used to live in one of the snowiest cities in the United States (Rochester, New York!), but I never really got used to the cold. I guess I won’t be coming with the rest of you to Jupiter’s shivery moon Europa, which a new study suggests could be habitable.
Find out if icy Europa could hold your next vacation home in today’s Inverse Daily, and keep telling us what you think is the best way to spend a day that’s wide open on your calendar. We’ve been loving all your responses so far — many of you enjoy walks, reading, and spending time with loved ones — and we read every email we get even if we aren’t always able to respond!
Some solar system moons like Saturn’s Enceladus and Jupiter’s Europa are frigid, but they’re still nice enough to potentially harbor you one day. Though “it was previously believed that most of these [moons] needed to be close to their planet to stay warm enough to hold liquid water oceans,” reports Passant Rabie, a new Astronomy study “revealed that these types of chemical interactions can still take place in frozen objects of the Solar System thanks to the presence of salts and ammonia.”
So even though Enceladus is often encapsulated in its own subzero temperatures, scientists now see it as “one of the most potentially habitable worlds of the Solar System,” writes Rabie, and were “forced [...] to investigate other icy objects that were deemed uninhabitable before.” Now, because their reevaluation determined that salts and ammonia allow frozen space objects to remain “geologically active,” scientists are adding “some of Saturn’s more distant moons, Uranus’ large moons, and several icy dwarf planets that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune” to the list of potentially habitable worlds.
But there’s still more work to be done. Everyone’s favorite underdog, the James Webb Space Telescope, will continue to glimpse these chilly moons, as well as the weird objects floating in the distant Kuiper Belt.
We have options: New study solves a major problem with living off-Earth
But don’t pack your parka just yet. Inverse editor Mike Brown recently spoke to former NASA astronaut Ron Garan about the future of civilization, and Garan wants readers to know one thing: take care of your mother planet first.
“We need to spread human presence throughout the Solar System and beyond, but we need to do it as ambassadors of a thriving planet,” Garan said. “We can’t do it as refugees escaping environmental disaster.”
“Garan is a proponent of spaceflight and its effects on humanity,” writes Brown. “He was featured in the third edition of The Overview Effect, Frank White’s book on the shift in perspective that astronauts feel when they realize Earth is whole and alone, floating in the universe.” He also recently produced an NFT series centering around his time in space.
But Garan takes a sober approach to expansion. He believes that humans should settle the Moon before moving onto more ambitious territory, and that if we aren’t able to preserve what we already have here on Earth, future settlements would also likely fail. “I don’t subscribe to the idea that we need to colonize the Solar System so we can use up the resources of this planet and move on to the next, like a virus,” Garan said. Elon Musk, take heed.
“After a long, hot day, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as an ice-cold glass of water,” writes Mike Brown. “Crystal clear out of the tap or filtering pitcher, it’s hard to imagine that the water passing your parched lips could be anything but pure. That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Mind you, I am sipping from a cup filled with tap water while typing this, but the unseemly truth is that “even after filtering, the water flowing through millions of people’s pipes around the world can still contain imperceptible toxins and pollutants, including arsenic and atrazine,” writes Brown. Who knew maintaining my peak hydration could be so icky?
The study authors behind a recent Nature Communications study certainly did, and they offer a little solution. They suggest that reusable nanobots — magnetic experts at navigating “small or inaccessible spaces,” writes Brown — could be released in temperature-controlled water to chomp up pollutants. These hungry bots aren’t yet past their research phase, but if the study authors reach their goal of cheap mass production, nanobots could one day filter a faucet near you.
Ice cold pollution: Nine ways to stop water pollution at home
To welcome in the languid hours of the weekend, you should sit down with a frosty glass of something and read Brian VanHooker’s oral history of Wolverine, Marvel’s knife-fisted super-mutant. Culture writer VanHooker is an expert oral history writer, and this one, supplemented by sketches, movie trailers, and comic covers, provides tremendous insight into Marvel’s storytelling and creative process.
Here’s a taste: “There’s a certain seduction when it comes to Wolverine,” former X-Men comics writer Chris Claremont told Inverse. “In some ways, he’s truly horrible and some of his teammates know just how horrible he is. But he’s their friend and they’re fighting for him the same way he fights for them. He’s horrible, yet there’s something about him that is vulnerable, something maybe even redeemable.”
“It’s something that has reached out and grabbed the readers for almost 50 years,” Claremont continued. Get cozy and join him.
Seriously super: ‘Batgirl’ casts trans actress in a historic superhero movie first
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- On this day in history: American chemist Margaret Dorothy Foster was born today, March 4, in 1895. In 1918, three days after completing her undergraduate degree, Foster became the first woman chemist to work at the United States Geological Survey.
Song of the day: “Blue Hen (Geology Version),” by mewithoutYou.