Jupiter's Moon Europa Could Support Life, According To NASA

Jupiter's Moon Europa Could Support Life, According To NASA

By: Patricia Cordero -

An underground ocean on one of Jupiter's moons Europa could be capable of sustaining life.

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Photo: Courtesy of EFE

Madrid (efe-epa).- An underground ocean on one of Jupiter's moons Europa could be capable of sustaining life, according to NASA scientists. 

A team has been studying the body of water under the icy surface of the satellite, which is one of the largest in our Solar System. 

Scientists believe the reservoir could have been formed by the decomposition of minerals that contained the water, caused by natural radioactive processes or tidal movement. 

Researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California developed the model after studying geochemical deposits in the interior of Europa. 

The results, which have not been yet peer-reviewed, were presented at the 2020 Goldschmidt geochemistry conference, the main annual international meeting on geochemistry, which this year is held in virtual form. 

Europa has a diameter of 3,100 kilometers, slightly smaller than that of our Moon, and orbits Jupiter about 780 million kilometers from the Sun. 

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Jupiters Moon Europa Could Support Life, According To NASA 1In this NASA Cassini Spacecraft image released 21 December, 2000 the Galilean satellites Europa and Callisto are caught, under the watchful gaze of Jupiter, nearly perfectly aligned with each other, and the planet's center in this true color frame made of narrow angle images taken on 07 December 2000.EPA PHOTO NASA/NASA/CASSINI SPACECRAFT/NASA

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Its surface temperature never exceeds 160C but it is not yet known what the conditions are of the underground ocean. 

Scientists have been studying Europa using the Voyager and Galileo probes and the Hubble Space Telescope, which record detailed images of its icy surface crust. 

Hubble discovered evidence of water vapor plumes erupting from the surface of the moon in 2016. 

Lead researcher Mohit Melwani Daswani said Jupiter’s moon could be one of the best opportunities to find life in our Solar System. 

He added in a statement: “We believe that this ocean could be quite habitable for life.” 

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The research will pave the way for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, which is due to launch in a few years and aims to investigate the potential habitability of the satellite. 

“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,” the expert added. 

These findings could have implications for other moons in the Solar System. 

The model created by the team means oceans on other moons, such as Europa’s neighbor Ganymede or Saturn’s satellite Titan, may also have been formed by similar processes. EFE-EPA 


Text: Courtesy of EFE