Jupiter’s moon Europa is a very interesting place, according tomedia. It’s a huge ice ball, and scientists think there’s a huge ocean of liquid water hidden there. While proving that there is water beneath the earth’s crust can be tricky, a new study suggests that data collected 20 years ago support this theory.
A new paper, published recently in geophysical Research Letters, looked at readings taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in 2000. During that mission, Galileo’s high-energy particle detector was searching space for fast-moving charged particles. Its particle detectors discovered a lack of protons as it cruised over the North Pole of Ganymede.
At first, the scientists who studied the data could not explain why, and attributed the strange data to Ganymede, which could hinder the instrument’s work and prevent it from detecting the particles. Now, looking back, the researchers offer a different, very exciting explanation.
Recent observations of Europa by the Hubble Space Telescope show that there appears to be a large amount of water spewing into space. In simulating the conditions of Ganymede’s atmosphere and water vapor plumes, the researchers found a lack of protons as Galileo flew over, which may be evidence of its passing through the active plume.
“The new finding here is that part of the reason for the decrease can be explained by charge exchange, and in the thin atmosphere of Ganymede, protons are transferred when they lose their charge, ” the researchers explain. In addition, we found a special decay phenomenon, which can be explained by the eruption of water vapor plumes, which in turn provides additional evidence of Galileo’s active plume as it flew over E26. “
It has long been thought that frozen worlds like Ganymede and Saturn’s Titan are solid. Recently, however, scientists have found evidence that liquid water still exists deep in its frozen crust — tidal forces from its main planet provide enough energy to keep the water not completely frozen, and cracks in the ice crust allow some liquid to pour into space.
The biggest question, of course, remains: if these icy satellites are hidden in huge oceans, does that mean there could be life there? Perhaps the task of the future can reveal the secrets hidden inside Ganymede and Titan, but for now, all we can do is wait and remain curious.