NASA researchers say the new model shows that the inner ocean of Europa should be able to support life,media CNET reported. It has long been suspected that Europa’s waters, which are beneath its ice crust and are affected by tidal movements or certain elements of the moon’s subsurface geology, may be habitable.
In the latest study, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory used data from the Galileo mission to simulate the composition of Europa’s hidden layers and other physical features, including its underground oceans. They found that the world’s waters may not be as acidic as previously thought.
“Our simulations, combined with data from the Hubble Space Telescope, show that chlorides on Europa’s surface indicate that water is likely to become rich in chloride,” lead researcher Mohit Melwani Daswani explained in a press release. In other words, its composition becomes more like the earth’s oceans. We believe that this ocean may be quite life-friendly. “
The study, presented Wednesday at the virtual Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference, has not yet been peer-reviewed.
Scientists have previously found a hidden ocean on TitanEnceladus, and have detected complex organic compounds in its waters that are one of the building blocks of life.
“Of course, interesting chemical reactions occur in these bodies,” said Steve Mojzsis, a professor of geology at the University of Colorado who wasn’t involved in the work. A key aspect of making a world ‘livable’ is the inherent ability to maintain these chemical imbalances. It can be said that the icy satellite slacks the ability, so this will require testing on any future mission to Europa. “
Fortunately, such a task will soon emerge. “Europa is one of our best opportunities to find life in the solar system,” Daswani said. “NASA’s Europa Clipper mission will be launched in the next few years, so our work is to prepare for this mission, which will investigate Europa’s liveability. “