It’s pretty easy to hoax people. We all want to be deceived, but only up to a point. Some hoaxes are fun and pleasant, others malicious and unpleasant. We’d like a way to tell the difference (Robert Carroll).

Apr 17, 2023

Life Discovered on Jupiter – AOL April Day Hoax (1996)


The headline was a stunner: "Government source reveals signs of life on Jupiter." And this wasn't from some supermarket tabloid, either, but on the main welcome page of America Online, the world's largest commercial online service back in 1996.

Monday, many of AOL's 5 million subscribers read the startling tale and believed. How could they doubt? AOL president Ted Leonsis declared that his company had documents proving a massive government coverup of the facts. But as the day wore on, some AOL users noticed the date - April 1. They'd been the victims of a megabyte-size electronic hoax.

Still, the story quickly generated about 1500 messages on AOL, and hundreds of people called the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California trying to obtain more details about the announced discovery.

Said AOL spokeswoman Margaret Ryan, "The April Fool's hoax was designed to pay tribute to the history-making `War of the Worlds' broadcast in 1938." Orson Welles' radio play about a Martian invasion led to a nationwide panic, when thousands of listeners thought it was really happening.

In 1996, the internet-based service America Online had gained five million subscribers, all of whom were greeted with a news flash that read, "Government source reveals signs of life on Jupiter," when they


However, this joke might not be considered so off the grid if you read the latest astronomic discoveries not ruling out the possibility that the life may be indeed present on Jupiter or on one of its moons.

New, 2022, research out of the University of Texas suggesting that is a case and helping scientists discover alien life on one of Jupiter’s moons. Moon called Europa is about the size of Earth’s moon and is believed to have a liquid ocean on its surface. This ocean is covered by a thick layer of ice that is formed by “underwater snow”. According to the university, the ice, formed by the “snow”, that covers Europa floats up from the depths of the ocean and sticks to the underside of the ice. The snow then freezes and causes the ice sheet to grow.

This snow, also known as frazil ice, is much less salty than the ocean it forms in. Determining how salty the ocean is will be critical for a future mission to the icy moon for NASA’s Europa Clipper. The spacecraft will scan the moon using radar. The saltier the ice, the harder it will be to see into the ocean.

Understanding the saltiness of the ice will help NASA determine what the spacecraft is seeing, which could include signs that life has developed on the moon.

Why do scientists think that Europa has alien life? According to NASA, three elements are needed for life to exist: liquid water, the right chemicals and an energy source. Scientists who study the potential alien life believe Europa has two of these elements: water and chemicals. They are not sure if an energy source, like undersea volcanoes, exists on the world.

If the Europa Clipper does detect alien life during its mission, scientists suspect it will be microbial life. Super small and not very complex. The Europa Clipper mission will launch in 2024.

Also, researchers have found water clouds inside Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in 2018, raising the prospect that life may exist on the planet itself. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a storm that has been continuously observed since 1830, still remains a mystery to NASA and much of the scientific community, but the discovery of water clouds may lead to a greater understanding of the planet, its atmosphere and whether it ever held life, Clemson University astrophysicist Máté Ádámkovics said. Ádámkovics was quick to caution that, while the presence of water on the solar system’s largest planet is promising, it does not mean it is a precursor for life. “And, finally, where there’s the potential for liquid water, the possibility of life cannot be completely ruled out. So, though it appears very unlikely, life on Jupiter is not beyond the range of our imaginations,” he added.

The level of water on the planet is somewhat surprising, though perhaps not overly, considering the size of Jupiter. Ádámkovics noted that “Jupiter is a gas giant that contains more than twice the mass of all of our other planets combined,” so when combined with the fact its atmosphere is a mixture of hydrogen and helium, it has “many times more water than we have here on Earth.” In addition, Jupiter has 79 moons mostly comprised of ice, including the aforementioned Europa and Ganymede, where scientists recently discovered “extraordinary” electromagnetic waves, known as “chorus waves,” emanating from the satellite.

Scheduled for launch on 13 April, Juice will carry the most sophisticated set of scientific instruments yet into the outer solar system. Although Juice will visit Europa and Callisto, its main target is Ganymede. The largest moon of the solar system, if Ganymede were in orbit around the sun, it would be classed as a planet because it is larger in diameter than the inner planet Mercury. Yet because Europa became such a strong focus for the Galileo probe, Ganymede remains excitingly mysterious – and potentially even more fascinating than Europa.


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