Europa Jupiter’s moon could hold life

The researchers say the interior ocean in Jupiter’s moon Europa may be able to sustain life, NASA scientists believe. Their work is based on computer simulations of the reservoirs below the ice-shell surface of Europa, one of the largest moons in the Solar System.

Calculations by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California indicate this global ocean could have been formed by breakdown of minerals that contain water.

The researchers developed their model using data from NASA’s Galileo mission and the Hubble Space Telescope, which was built by NASA and the European Space Agency.Advertisement

In 2016, Hubble uncovered evidence of water vapour plumes erupting from the surface.Findings suggest ocean worlds such as Europa can be formed by metamorphism, a change in the composition or structure of rocks by heat, pressure, or another natural phenomenon

The scientists believe heating and increased pressure, possibly caused by natural radioactive processes or tidal movement generated by Jupiter’s gravity, would result in the breakdown of water-containing minerals to release trapped water.

“NASA’s Europa Clipper mission will launch in the next few years, and so our work aims to prepare for the mission, which will investigate Europa’s habitability.”

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Sandeep Madhavan
London , UK

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