Astronomers are ready to test Europe’s Hidden Sea of ​​Life

Beyond Mars and the asteroid belt, half a billion miles from the sun, the solar system could be as cold, bright, and lifeless. But scientists believe that there is a chance that small alien creatures can live a distant moon, and you can find it if you look in the right place. For many researchers, that area is Europe, under the thick, ice crust.

Planetary scientists have discovered more about Jupiter’s fourth -largest moon, one of the Earth’s closest oceans – places like Saturn’s moons. titanium and Enceladus with bodies of salt water and other liquids that can be used in the emergence of life. They present new findings this week about Europe’s cracked surface, hidden oceans, and geological activity for most of the year. conference on the planet in the United States, organized by the American Astronomical Society, for almost the second year in a row. The research serves as a prelude to meaningful opportunities for new observations on future missions sent by NASA and the European Space Agency.

“Europe is good. Anywhere in the solar system, outside of Earth, it has the greatest potential, I think, for maintaining a habitat that can support microbial life, ”said Michael Bland, a space scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona. After modeling the dynamic, rocky interior of the moon, Bland believes its deep-sea conditions could be applied to life, in line with new work they presented and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Catherine Elder at the conference on Monday.

Europe’s oceans are buried under about 10 miles of ice, but that doesn’t mean it’s too cold for life. As the moon orbits Jupiter, the spinal forces generate heat that melts nearly 5 percent of the moon’s mantle, below the earth’s surface. Some of that magma could migrate for 100 miles through small cracks in the cold, rocky material on top of it, exploding into the ocean floor, Bland argued. If it is true that this process has taken place, and is always correct, it will function as the Earth’s hydrothermal vents do: These sea volcanic vents provide energy and chemical components for life, far beyond the reach of the Earth. ot sunlight and photosynthesis. Hardy organisms thrive in such dark, high -pressure environments in our world, and perhaps others do the same.

But for the process to work, the magma must reach the bottom of the sea immediately before it freezes and hardens. Increasing its speed can be hapit ra quick enough for it to work that way, Bland’s models show, meaning there’s a chance for European marine life. “It’s unbelievable, but certain conditions have to be met, and it’s not guaranteed,” he said.

Europe is considered one of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, first seen by Galileo Galilei with his pre-NASA telescope four hundred years ago. Its compatriots include Io, a volcanic, sulfuric, radiation-bombed bomb near Jupiter, and, orbiting further into Europe, numerous Ganymede and cratered Callisto. The latter two may have a port at the bottom of the ocean, though, if the water lies much deeper beneath the thicker crusts.

But Europe is unique. Not only is its crust relatively thin, but its surface is covered with thousands of narrow, criss-crossing ridges and holes, some reaching hundreds of miles. By mapping the available images, Michelle Babcock, a planetary scientist at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, identified nearly 70 “rope ropes” among them: wiggly, irregular structures don’t such as straight and arched ridges that scientists can already explain.

While he is not yet sure what is causing the swaying orbits, all the marks of laceration on the outside of the moon may have come in some way from the small elliptical orbit, which has repeatedly brought it in-and after – Jupiter. “As it orbits Jupiter, the shell is opened and pulled, and the weight of the rising water causes fractures and cracks, causing many surface shapes,” Babcock said. She shared her findings with teammates Britney Schmidt and Chase Chivers on Monday.

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