The team of scientists has revealed that there are pockets of water inside the icy surface that can sustain life in Europe, the fourth largest moon of Jupiter.
A team from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States used satellite images of features of the Moon’s frozen surface to model their age and size.
Scientists speculate that these features are pockets of liquid water within a 15-mile-thick ice sheet that lasted a few thousand years before it was renewed.
They said they could live in these pockets, which could detect NASA’s multi-overflight mission around Europe, launching in 2024, and could contain existing microbes.
Europe is known as the fourth largest moon of the gas giant Jupiter, and is believed to have an ocean of liquid water less than 100 miles below the frozen surface.
There is evidence of recent geological formations within the 15-mile-thick frozen crust, including small, dark, and dome-like features about a mile below the surface.
Using numerical simulations, the team found that these features contain relatively short-lived shoals currently found on ice crusts.
The team explained that these pockets inside the vast cryosphere would be suitable for microbial life, although no organism has yet been found.
Pocket scientist Chase Chevrolet and colleagues modeled images from NASA ‘s Galileo spacecraft, which explored Jupiter’s systems in the 1990s and 2000s.
The black spots on some of the pockets found on the surface of the Europa Moon are associated with salt in the Earth’s interior, which retains liquid water and slows down the freezing process.
Today, Chiverse predicts that there will be hundreds of pockets of liquid water across the lunar surface.
“We think there is still shallow water beneath some of these features,” Chivers told the New Scientist, adding that the appearance of plumes on the lunar surface could be explained earlier by the ocean.
Mark Fox Powell of the Open University in the United Kingdom, who did not participate in the study, told the New Scientist that having pockets can be the home of life.
“If there is life in the ocean, it could lead to the beginning of life if the ice melts and then melts again,” he added, adding that it would be a “destructive society” and eventually freeze again.
The so-called “Europe-Clipper” multi-flight mission around Europe, scheduled to launch in 2024, is expected to find pockets closest to the lunar surface.
The spacecraft will reach the moon in 2030, and will use radar to search the surface and an analyzer to study dust from the moon in plumes.
If these plumes were created from these pockets, as the team predicted, they might find evidence of microorganisms in the dust.
The full results of the study were recently published in the journal JGR Planets.
Source: Daily Mail