science

If the lakes of Europe are freaking out

In the pursuit of extraterrestrial life, the celestial bodies of our solar system appear liquid water Below the surface are among the most intriguing targets for scientists. This is why NASA is preparing to send the Europa Clipper spacecraft to Jupiter’s moon Europa: there is clear evidence in fact that, Under a thick crust of iceMoon guests global ocean Which can provide the right conditions for the development of life, in a way.

However, scientists believe that The ocean is not the only source of water on me Europe. Based on the observations made by the mission Galileo NASA, believed that the gods tanks Of the salty water may also reside within the frozen mantle that covers the Moon, some located near the surface and others many miles below it.

Getting as much information as possible about these water reserves is of paramount importance to guide the search for them Europe Clipper, a NASA mission that will depart in 2024 for Europe with the goal of conducting a detailed investigation of Jupiter’s moon. The spacecraft will orbit and use Jupiter A set of advanced tools To collect scientific data during 50 flights to Europe projected by the mission.

Thanks to new studies, scientists are gaining a much clearer idea of ​​what Europe’s lakes might look like and how they behave.

modern investigation published on me Planetary Science Journal Supports the idea, which has already been developed in the past, that water inside the Moon could seep from Europa’s surface in the form of liquid and muddy steam or ice plumes associated with volcanic activity.

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NASA’s Galileo spacecraft captured this colorful view of Jupiter’s moon Europa in the late 1990s. Scientists study the processes affecting the moon’s surface as they prepare to explore the frozen body.
Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SETI Institute

Computer simulation offered in paper It goes further, and shows that if there are any bangs In Europe, they may have come from her wide and shallow lakes, An integral part of the ice, and not of the World Ocean, which lies far below.

We have shown that Cryolava plumes or streams can be associated with liquid water reservoirs located just below the surface. If these deposits were present, Europa Clipper would be able to detect them, said Elodie Lesage, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lead author of the research. “Our results provide new insight into how deep the water causing surface activity, including plumes, can be. And the water must be high enough to be detected by more instruments that will be aboard the Europa Clipper.”

Above: The illustration depicts a plume of water vapor believed to be escaping from the frozen surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Source: NASA / ESA / K. Rutherford / SWRI

Phil Schwartz

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