Under the icy surface of Europa, there is a huge liquid ocean. A simulation conducted by scientists at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, California) shows that it the water could move to the surface.
A recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, scientists created a few simulations that show how Europa’s ice shell behaves.
According to the study, Europa’s gravitational interactions with Jupiter change the icy surface of the moon. When gravity pulls at its shell, it makes the faults form and reform the ice.
Scientists showed it in the animation, where faults are the yellow, green and blue lines. The swirling at the bottom of the animation is the upper part of the subsurface ocean – the part that meets the ice. The small white dots are pieces of the ocean that were at the bottom of the ice and which have been frozen. Researchers call the white bits “fossil” ocean material because these bits traveled for millions of years on the surface of the planet before reaching the bottom of the ice.
When the bits reach the surface, a spacecraft that would be sent to study Jupiter’s icy moon will be able to find Europa’s ancient ocean. In the early 2020s, NASA plans to study Europa by sending the Europa Clipper spacecraft. This craft will be the first one to study Europa exclusively. It will fly by the surface of the moon and find out what is made of, and it will also test and see if the animated simulation is correct.
According to the statement, scientists said they want to study Europa’s “fossil” ocean material no to see the current state of its ocean, but to see if there could have been life on Europa in the past.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere