Jupiter’s moon Europa is far away from the solar system, where the sun’s rays do not heat up as much as on Earth. At the surface it is minus 200 degrees, and it is covered by an ice cover 2 to 300 km thick.
Today, astronomers strongly doubt that there is a vast ocean of salt water beneath the thick ice. This makes Europe a leading candidate in finding aliens. But the ice barrier makes it impossible for us to test the water.
A discovery by American physicists now makes it easier to find out if small aquatic organisms actually live there. The distinctive shape of Europe leads us to where to look.
Microscopic observations of the Galileo spacecraft show that the lunar surface is filled with cracks and double ice sheets that stretch for miles. It’s like two ridges running parallel to each other.
Found in Greenland
Geophysicists at Stanford University have discovered similar double locks on a glacier in northwestern Greenland. Radar surveys showed that there were small pockets of liquid water under the double locks. Together, they form an underground formation that melts and freezes everywhere else. Discovery Published Natural communication.
Lawrence Roth, an astronomer at the Royal Institute of Technology, says researching the Earth and comparing it to Europe is a very interesting approach.
Water flowing under snow
If the twin locks in Europe were formed in the same way as in Greenland, it would mean that there would be pockets of relatively close flowing water that would be more accessible for future exploration than the larger global oceans.
– Let’s see what’s inside. But in order to find life forms in water pockets, there must be some kind of interaction with the ocean. We do not know yet, says Lawrence Roth.
This is because it is suspected that life may develop in the underground ocean. It is located close to the mountain range and is believed to have hyperthermic springs. Hot water and minerals flow in there – they are nutrients for simple organisms.
Life on Earth began near such a hyperthermic source at the bottom of the ocean.
Over the next few years, NASA and ESA plan to send their own spacecraft to use radar to explore what is under the ice in Europe.
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