NASA Spots Surprising Activity On Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Posted: Sep 24 2016, 4:24am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 26 2016, 12:38am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


NASA Spots Surprising Activity on Jupiter’s Moon Europa
Credit: NASA

NASA is going to reveal the details of Jupiter's icy moon Europa as viewed by Hubble Space Telescope

Jupiter’s moon Europa takes center stage as NASA is expected to unravel some surprising secrets about the icy object next week. The announcement could be about the presence of subsurface ocean or even the existence of certain chemicals in Europa's atmosphere that are necessary to spawn life on a surface. But it's definitely not about aliens.

Europa, one of the four moon of Jupiter’s, is strongly believed to have a deep ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust. But researchers are still unsure whether the Jovian moon has the right kind of chemical balance to support life similar to Earth. Thought they suspect it should be. 

The announcement, that is scheduled to be made on Monday, will be based on the images of celestial object taken by Hubble Space Telescope. Back in 2012, Hubble observed water vapor at Europa’s south pole, providing the first strong evidence of water plume gushing from the moon's surface. Further investigation revealed that erupting water plumes were possibly linked to the subsurface ocean. If those plumes are conformed and they are also found connected with subsurface ocean, NASA will broaden the scope of investigation and analyze the chemical makeup of Europa’s surface.

Discovered by astronomer Galileo Galilei, Europa is one of the smallest moons of Jupiter but overall sixth largest moon in our solar system. In 1990s, NASA Galileo mission closely inspected the moon for the first time and revealed that Europa’s is similar in size to our moon and contains bulk of water and ice.

Several spacecraft has made close flybys of Europa before. NASA also intends to send a spacecraft equipped with sophisticated scientific equipments to circle Europa and to make repeated close flybys of its surface sometime in the 2020s. During these flybys, the spacecraft will take high-resolution images of Europa, investigates its crust and interior and determine the compositional properties of the icy moon.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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