Water found on Jupiter moonNovember 17th, 2011 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Nov 17 (IANS) NASA’s Galileo spacecraft has found evidence of water beneath the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, researchers said.
The data suggest there is significant exchange between Europa’s icy shell and the ocean beneath, they added.
This information could bolster arguments that Europa’s global subsurface ocean represents a potential habitat for life elsewhere in our solar system, Xinhua reported, quoting NASA.
Europa, which is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon, is believed to have a large ocean of salty water deep beneath its frozen crust.
The Galileo spacecraft, launched by the space shuttle Atlantis in 1989, studied Jupiter, which is the largest planet in the solar system, and some of its many moons.
Pictures sent by Galileo revealed cracks and jumbled ice on Jupiter’s surface. Seeking to understand how such topography evolved in a place with such dim sunlight, scientists believe that the answer lies in similar processes on Earth.
Europa’s ice shell is about 10 km thick and within it are giant pockets of water, lying at depths as shallow as three kilometers. Warm water from these sub-surface lakes wells up in plumes, causing the ice to become brittle, crack and collapse.
“Now, we see evidence that it’s a thick ice shell that can mix vigorously and new evidence for giant shallow lakes. That could make Europa and its ocean more habitable,” said Britney Schmidt, lead author of the study and fellow at the Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas, Austin.
- Five places where life may exist in solar system - Mar 02, 2012
- Jupiter's moon Europa has a shallow lake - Nov 17, 2011
- 'Goldilocks' zone of life in space far bigger than originally thought - Dec 31, 2009
- Flowers may bloom on Jupiter's icy moon Europa - May 06, 2009
- Oxygen atmosphere found on Saturn's moon - Nov 26, 2010
- NASA launches Jupiter probe - Aug 05, 2011
- NASA spacecraft captures methane 'rain' on Saturn's moon Titan - Mar 18, 2011
- Ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa may harbor 3 million tons of fish - Nov 18, 2009
- Pluto may be warm enough to harbour ocean beneath its ice shell - Dec 18, 2010
- Saturn's largest moon Titan has surprisingly slushy insides - Mar 12, 2010
- Shallow reservoirs of liquid water may have been common on Mars - Nov 23, 2010
- NASA's Cassini spots possible ice volcano on Saturn's moon - Dec 15, 2010
- Saturnian moon may have fizzy ocean capable of harbouring life - Jan 29, 2011
- 3 worlds that may have life on them - Oct 14, 2009
- NASA to probe Jupiter's stormy clouds - Jul 31, 2011
Tags: dim sunlight, frozen crust, galileo spacecraft, geophysics university, jupiter moon, many moons, moon europa, nasa, new evidence, plumes, salty water, shallow lakes, solar system, space shuttle atlantis, subsurface ocean, surface of jupiter, thick ice, university of texas austin, warm water, xinhua