Water detected on one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa

The hottest candidates for the development of extraterrestrial life are one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, and one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa – even though it’s very cold on its surface. Life, in fact, might be hiding in an underground ocean under the 50-100 kilometer thick layer of ice. Its existence is indicated, among other things, by the countless fault lines criss-crossing across its surface.

Proof of this underground sea, however, has not yet been found. But now, with the help of the Keck Telescope on Mauna Kea (Hawaii), astronomers have found more evidence, as they have written in an article.

The researchers detected water in the form of vapor in considerable quantities of 2360 kilograms per second. However, the water vapor is not always present. Apparently, the moon only ejects it occasionally through some of the geologically active cracks on its surface.

A NASA video (below) explains the details of the study.

Europa’s surface, photographed by the Galileo probe. The wide crack approximately in the center of the picture might be active. (picture: NASA/JPL).
Water molecules emit energy at very specific frequencies in the infrared when they interact with sunlight (picture: Michael Lentz/NASA Goddard)

 

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BrandonQMorris
  • BrandonQMorris
  • Brandon Q. Morris is a physicist and space specialist. He has long been concerned with space issues, both professionally and privately and while he wanted to become an astronaut, he had to stay on Earth for a variety of reasons. He is particularly fascinated by the “what if” and through his books he aims to share compelling hard science fiction stories that could actually happen, and someday may happen. Morris is the author of several best-selling science fiction novels, including The Enceladus Series.

    Brandon is a proud member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the Mars Society.