(MENAFN – The Conversation) Europe, a frozen moon around Jupiter, is believed to be one of the most common world saws in the solar system. It was first imaged in detail by Divoyer 1 Probobe in 1979, revealing a surface almost devoid of large craters. This suggested that the water constantly floods up from the inside, resurfacing the satellite. Europe is also criss-crossing with long thrust, folds and ridges, potentially made of icebergs floating around in melt-water or slush.
But it was in the late 1990s that Europe got really interesting. The Galileo mission found evidence that it had asub-surface liquid salt water ocean. The fact that it is salty gives us the clues that water can be in contact with stone – a process that could provide energy to the water to feed microbial life.
But the observations are too few and limited for us to say separately how deep and salty the ocean is – let alone what kind of salts there are. Now, a new science-advancing study shows that there may be a normal table salt (sodium chloride) – just like on the ground. It has important implications for the potential existence of life in Europe's hidden depths.
Scientists believe that hydrothermal circulation in the ocean, possibly driven by hydrothermal heat, naturally enriches the ocean in sodium chloride, through chemical reactions between the ocean and rock. On Earth, hydrothermal vents are thought to be the source of life, such as bacteria. Plumbing emanating from the southern pole of Saturn's Tunis Enceladus, which has a similar ocean, has been found to contain sodium chloride, which makes both Europe and Enceladus even more enticing targets for exploration.
Chaos regions on Europe's trailing hemisphere.
NASA / JPL
If we look at the spectrum (the breakdown of light according to the wavelength) of light reflected from the surface, we can ship what substances are there. This shows evidence of water ice. But there are also two other materials: "hydrated" sulfuric acid and sulfate salt. Where do they come from? For scientists studying the interior of Europe, or examining the moon's oceanic potential, the really interesting question is: They come from within Europe?
Like our moon and earth, Europe is usually locked in Jupiter, meaning that it always gives the same side to the giant planet. Galileo observations revealed the presence of & # 39; hydrated & # 39; Sulfuric acid on the side of Europe that faces upwards along its orbit, the trailing hemisphere. To make sulfuric acid in water ice you need a source of sulfur, and energy to drive the chemical reaction. Some of this may come from inside the moon in the form of sulfate salts, some of which may be transmitted by meteorites, but the most likely explanation is that it comes from its sibling volcanic moon, yes.
Sulfur would be ejected in place of volcanoes on the Yo and eventually make its way to Europe. Moving faster than Europe, the sulfur would probably hit the trailing side of Europe and implant itself into the ice. The energy required to do so will come from Electronics Jupiter's radiation belts. For the most part, they go around jupiter faster than Europe, hit its trailing side and deliver tons of energy.
Concentrations of sulfuric acid on the surface. The trailing hemisphere is on the upper left where the concentrations are higher.
NASA / JPL
Measurements have also shown evidence for sulfate salts, such as magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), but it was not clear where it came from.
The team behind the new learning reason that Europe is facing alongside its orbit, the leading hemisphere, which is shielded from the sulfur bombardment, may be the best place to look for what salts really exist in Europe.
In the visible part of a spectrum there are different forms called color centers & # 39; They appear when irradiated by their energetic electronics. The researchers used the powerful Hubble Space Telescope to look for evidence from the color centers in Europe's spectrum and discovered a feature located exclusively on the side of the moon facing alongside its orbit, showing evidence of sodium chloride.
Europe in natural color on the left and false color on the right. The brown / red regions on the right should correspond to the Sulfuric acid regions, the Gel-IH terrain on the link is now being created by sodium chloride.
NASA / JPL / University of Arizona
Type of salt
Although there are some hints of salts in the gallic observations, the newer bubble data has allowed scientists to narrow down to an area on the leading hemisphere called the chaos terrain, and not in areas where sulfur chemistry can be driven. That means they really are likely to come from Europe's interior.
Life, as we know it, needs liquid water and energy. The fact that Europe has a liquid ocean at all tells us that it is liquid and a source of energy to keep it from freezing. But the ocean's chemical make-up is also critical. Brine, & # 39; salty water & # 39; has a lower freezing point like clean water, meaning it makes the water more palatable.
Salt, especially the sodium ions in table salt, is also critical for a complete range of metabolic processes in plant and animal life. By contrast, several other salts, such as sulfates, may inhibit the presence of large amounts of excessives. Researchers were keen to point out that they should only see the end point of the complication range of sub-surface processes – the salt should only be part of the natural icy layers. However, for Europe to be hopeful, sodium chloride discovery is good news.