Europa Ocean Water and Ice

Are Scientists Set to Discover Life Beneath Europa’s Underground Ocean?

Europa is one of Jupiter’s moons and slightly smaller than our moon. It was discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610 and it was the first time that a moon orbiting another planet was discovered. What makes Europa special is that there is oxygen in the atmosphere and there is a huge ocean underneath the icy shell of the surface covering the whole of the planet.

It was only recently that scientists detected chemicals on the surface of the Moon that could only come from a liquid water ocean beneath the surface. Of course we realize that something like this could mean that there would be an abundance of underwater life.

Europa rotates around Jupiter in an eccentric movement with the same side of the moon facing Jupiter, just as one side of our moon faces Earth. The eccentric rotation creates motion in the ocean underneath the surface and tidal waves due to gravity change, which increases the pressure and probably causes cracks on the surface.

Scientists suggest that evidence shows that the water ocean is probably very close to the surface because of the chemical exchange detected between them. As a result NASA proposed the idea of sending a tiny submarine which could penetrate the surface by drilling a small hole and enter the subterranean ocean to investigate for life. Such a small vehicle could dramatically reduce the cost of a mission to Europa since weight is a major factor that increases the cost of launching any object to space.

That is going to be an exciting project giving the ability to investigate areas that previously would have been prohibited by cost and size.

By John Black

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