Life as we know it requires three ingredients: energy, organic molecules, and liquid water. Astrobiology, our search for life beyond Earth, is a search for planets, dwarf planets, and moons that harbor substantial liquid water. We call these places “ocean worlds.”
We’re learning that ocean worlds could be ubiquitous in the galaxy. Just in our solar system, we have found evidence of oceans on Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus; Jupiter’s moons Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto; Neptune’s moon Triton; and on Pluto. We also believe that Venus and Mars may have had oceans billions of years ago. Could they have supported life?
NASA’s research on oceans also includes our own planet and helps us to better understand the role of Earth’s ocean in our planet’s climate system. As we learn more about our own oceans, we will better understand worlds beyond Earth.