Europa's plumes made Jupiter moon a major candidate for life

A new study at old data is giving scientists a fresh reason to view Europa, a moon of Jupiter, as a prominent candidate in the search for life beyond Earth, with evidence of water plumes ejecting into space
Credit: Nasa
“We grasp that Europa features a heap of the ingredients necessary for life, definitely for life as we all know it. There’s water. There’s energy. There’s some quantity of carbon material. however the habitability of Europa is one in every one of the large questions that we would like to understand,” said planetary scientist Elizabeth Turtle of Johns Hopkins University Applied physics laboratory.

“And one in every of the extremely exciting things regarding detection of a plume is that meaning there could also be  the material from the ocean — which is probably going the foremost inhabitable a part of Europa as a result of it’s hotter and it’s shielded from the radiation environment by the ice shell — to come out higher than the ice shell. which suggests that we’d be able to sample it,” Turtle told a NASA briefing.

The analysis, headed by University of Michigan space physicist Xianzhe Jia, was revealed within the journal Nature astronomy.

The findings support alternative proof of plumes from Galilean, whose ocean could contain double the volume of all Earth’s oceans. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 2012 collected ultraviolet information implicate a plume.

NASA can get a close-up look from a replacement orbiter during its Europa Clipper mission that might launch as shortly as June 2022, providing a potential chance to sample plumes for signs of life, maybe microorganism, from its ocean.

Europa is taken into account among the prime candidates for life in our solar system, however, isn't the sole one. for example, NASA’s Cassini orbiter sampled plumes from Saturn’s ocean-bearing moon Enceladus that contained hydrogen from hydrothermal vents, an environment which will have given rise to life on Earth.

A bit smaller than Earth’s moon, Europa’s ocean resides beneath an ice layer 10 to fifteen miles (15 to 25 km) thick, with a calculated depth of 40 to 100 miles (60 to 150 km).

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