Scientists believe Jupiter’s moon Europa could support life

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 26, 2020 Published on June 26, 2020

According to a report presented at the virtual Goldschmidt conference, scientists believe that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa could sustain life. They even found proof that the ocean itself could support life, according to the report by Eureka Alert.

In the report, researchers used data from the Galileo mission to analyse the composition and physical properties of Europa’s core, silicate layer, and the ocean beneath the surface.

Lead researcher Mohit Melwani Daswani from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory informed that they found different minerals to lose water and volatiles at different depths and temperatures. He said to media: “We added up this volatiles that is estimated to have been lost from the interior, and found that they are consistent with the current ocean's predicted mass, meaning that they are probably present in the ocean."

Europa is one of Jupiter’s 79 moons and is the sixth-largest moon in the solar system. The origin of the ocean in Europa is unknown. However, scientists had earlier discerned that the ice crust on Europa floats above a subsurface ocean with observations and data collected by the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft.

Researchers found that ocean worlds like Europa can be formed by metamorphism, a process where increased heat and pressure can breakdown water-containing minerals, subsequently releasing the water initially, because of the radioactive decay and later, because of the subsurface tidal movement.

Furthermore, scientists also discovered that the subsurface ocean could have been acidic, comprising of high concentrations of carbon dioxide, calcium, and sulfate.

Previously, the ocean was thought to be sulfuric, but researchers with their model showed that the oceans were chloride rich, making it very similar to oceans on Earth. On this basis, researchers believe thaht the ocean “could be quite habitable for life."

Published on June 26, 2020
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