Forget Mars — Jupiter’s Moon Europa One of the most promising worlds in the solar system to search for alien lifeMainly because it boasts A huge sea of liquid sitting under the ice sheet.. Europa is only a quarter of the Earth’s diameter, but its oceans can contain twice as much water as the Earth’s oceans combined. And where there is water, as we know, there is a chance for life to settle down.
However, discovering the lives of aliens who may actually live in Europa can be a daunting task. The lunar ice shell is believed to be 10 to 15 miles thick. The farthest distance humans have ever dug into Earth is 7.67 miles.
But that may not be as difficult as we think.New research Was announced in Nature Communications on tuesday It reveals that the ice shell itself can be much more porous than previously thought. In fact, ice may have multiple pockets of water that can support life.
Why NASA is obsessed with Europa, Jupiter’s watery moon
What are the keys to these new discoveries? Greenland. New data collected by radar penetrating ice shows the formation of “double ridge” features on the Greenland ice sheet. This is a feature that also exists in Europe. The researchers behind the new paper believe in the mechanism of how these double ridges formed in Greenland apply to Europe. This suggests that Jupiter’s moon has more liquid water than you can imagine.
“That was really a bit of a coincidence,” electrician Riley Calberg, who is trying to get a PhD from Stanford University, who led the new study, told The Daily Beast. “One of my colleagues in this paper, a planetary scientist, gave a presentation on a major open question in European science, showing a picture of these double ridges on the surface. When I was working on a completely different project related to the impact of climate change on the icebed, I was surprised to see features similar to my data from Earth. “
Calberg and his colleagues return to European data, where the double ridge of Jupiter’s Moon (first observed by NASA’s Galileo mission in the 1990s) is unique between the height of the ridge and the distance between the two peaks. I found that it shows the ratio of the types of. After considering the difference in gravity between Earth and Europe, the team found that the characteristics of Greenland were quite similar. This means that double ridges appear to be formed similarly in both places.
In Greenland, double ridges are formed when the ice breaks around a pocket of pressurized liquid water that has been refrozen in the ice sheet and the two peaks rise in a particular way. I know that. These water pockets are shallow and help make the ice sheet more porous.
Researchers believe that the same mechanism explains the double ridges of Europe. That is, the ice shell is dynamic and permeable, probably full of shallow lumps of liquid water.
“If the double ridges of Europa are also formed this way, it suggests that shallow water pockets were very common in ice shells, or perhaps still common,” Calberg said. I did. “Double ridges are the most common surface seen in images from Europe, so if they form on the water, they really need to be everywhere in the ice shell.” The opportunity for life to evolve on Jupiter’s moon is much more common.
Calberg warned that this could not be confirmed until there was an opportunity to actually study Europe directly. NASA plans to launch an orbiting spacecraft called Europa Clipper in October 2024 and should arrive in Europa in April 2030. Let’s take a closer look at Europa’s ice shells. And it should help clarify whether Europa is really the best way to support the life of our solar system.
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