UNITED STATES: According to recent NASA research, Jupiter’s moon Europa may contain more water than the ocean on Earth. A study that was published in the Planetary Science Journal stated that if water is present on Europa’s icy surface, it may indicate that Europa is one of the outer solar system’s most approachable liquid water worlds. This makes it an important location for the search for life beyond Earth.
At a distance of 4 to 8 kilometres, the water may be close to the surface. The ice is most likely the coldest and brittlest at this stage. However, warmer climates and deeper reservoirs allow for easier ice deformation. This can indicate that the water reservoirs can’t build up enough pressure to trigger a spontaneous eruption.
Previous research has shown that freezing cryo-reservoirs may cause eruptions due to the pressurisation associated with volume change as liquid water expands to produce water ice, but those studies did not account for the deformation of the reservoir wall. The wall’s ability to deform viscoelastically can be used to handle the increasing overpressure and stop eruptions.
NASA reported on their official website that researchers would soon be able to approach Jupiter’s moon closely enough to understand the functioning of this potentially habitable world. If the moon possesses the right characteristics to support life, the Europa Clipper mission will be launched in 2024.
The crucial query of the selection of Jupiter’s moon as the study’s focus has also been addressed. It has the chemistry, energy, and water that are required for life, according to NASA.
The ice moon Europa will be studied with the help of the scientific equipment aboard the Jupiter-orbiting spacecraft Europa Clipper. This will be the most sophisticated spacecraft ever dispatched to look into whether another planet may support life.
Previous NASA missions have shown that Europa’s frozen shell may be covered by a salty ocean. It may contain more water than all of Earth’s oceans put together.
Whether Europa’s ocean and general ecology are suitable for supporting life will be determined during the expedition.