Asked by: Sarah Hollis, Manchester
All known life needs liquid water to function properly. It’s essential in part because water is such a good solvent, readily dissolving and transporting nutrients across a wide range of temperatures. Its molecules also play a key role in ensuring proteins behave properly.
But some scientists suspect alien life may have evolved to exploit alternative chemicals like hydrocarbons capable of performing the same roles.
Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.