A team of astronomers from different countries across the globe has identified, for the first time ever, water vapors forming across the surface of Jupiter’s moon known as Europa. The international team of researchers was led by NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center located in Maryland.
The Amounts of Water on Europa is Astonishing
The scientists utilized the W.M. Keck Observatory located in Hawaii to measure the water vapor. The confirmation of this vapor above Europa helps researchers better comprehend the unseen activities of the moon.
For instance, it helps sustain an idea, of which astronomers are quite convinced that there is a liquid water ocean, most likely twice as big as Earth’s flooding underneath the moon’s incredibly thick ice layer which.
The team of researchers spotted sufficient water flooding from Europa to fill a swimming pool the size used in the Olympics, in just a few seconds. But while that seems to be a lot of water, it was enough to be identified from Earth. However, the water seems to be seldom, at least when it comes to the amounts easily to see from Earth.
“Essential chemical elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur) and sources of energy, two of three requirements for life, are found all over the solar system. But the third — liquid water — is somewhat hard to find beyond Earth,” said Lucas Paganini, a NASA planetary scientist, and also the one who led the water detection operation.
Even though the team has not yet found liquid water directly, they have identified the following great thing: water in vapor form.
A Potentially Habitable Moon
Back in 2013, clouds of hydrogen and oxygen were discovered on Europa by a team of scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission, which is scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s, will get a closer look at the cold moon’s surface, a potentially habitable place.
The spacecraft scheduled for the mission will carry a bunch of cameras, spectrometers, and radars to calculate the thickness of Jupiter’s moon icy surface during 45 flybys.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.