Tidal heating could be powering a system that cycles water and nutrients between the moon's rocky interior, ice shell and ocean, creating a watery environment rich with chemistry conducive to life. function fullHeightWidthIframe(){ } Europa's surface is blasted by radiation from Jupiter. This means Jupiter spins nearly upright so that the planet, as well as Europa and Jupiter’s other dozens of moons, do not have seasons as extreme as other planets do. Scientists think the most likely thing that could create this magnetic signature is a global ocean of salty water. This water would reveal the chemistry of the subsurface ocean and may contain microbes that live below. If confirmed by follow-up observations, the plumes of water could be studied by future spacecraft similar to how the Cassini sampled the plume of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The 1,900-mile-wide (3,100 kilometers) Europa harbors a … Scientists found that ice shelves surrounding the lakes appear to be collapsing into them, thereby providing a mechanism through which life-forming chemicals created in sunlit areas on Europa's surface could be transferred to its interior. Psyche, the NASA mission to explore a metal-rock asteroid of the same name, recently passed a crucial milestone. The chemical elements for life might be found within Europa's icy shell, as well as its ocean. Site Manager: Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Even if Europa isn’t ejecting free samples into space, a 2018 study concluded that samples of Europa’s ocean could get frozen into the base of the moon’s ice shell, where the ice makes contact with the ocean. NASA's Juno mission has provided its first science results on the amount of water in Jupiter's atmosphere. The interaction between the ocean and the rocks could possibly supply chemical nutrients for living organisms. This enhanced-color image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft captures the striking cloud bands of Jupiter’s southern latitudes. And if there are areas where the ocean interacts with hot rock, then, like hydrothermal vents in Earth's oceans, that water could be pouring out chemical nutrients to power life. Each planet in the inner solar system is less dense than their inner neighbor — Mars is less dense than Earth, which is less dense than Venus, which is less dense than Mercury. The icy moon gets stretched and released by the tug of Jupiter's gravity, in an endless cycle, as Europa orbits the giant planet. Any life forms will have to get energy, but the way they would go about it is hard to predict, ... such as Enceladus and Europa. If the oxygen somehow make its way to the ocean, it could possibly provide chemical energy for microbial life. $('.gltf_viewer iframe').css({'height': "450px", 'width': '1px', 'max-width': '100%', 'min-width': '100%'}) Where would life on an icy world far from the Sun get energy? The case for life on Europa was greatly enhanced in 2011 when it was discovered that vast lakes exist within Europa's thick, icy shell. The Hubble image includes a new storm brewing on Jupiter, and a cousin of the famous Great Red Spot region gearing up to change color. In fact, the Galilean satellites are sometimes called a “mini solar system” since they formed from the leftovers of Jupiter similar to how Earth and other planets formed from gas and dust left over from the formation of our Sun. Radiation from Jupiter can destroy molecules on Europa's surface. The Moon will appear full from Wednesday morning through Saturday morning. The similarities don’t end there. }, 300) In November 2019, an international research team led by NASA announced they had directly detected water vapor for the first time above Europa’s surface. If we eventually find some form of life at Europa (or Mars or Enceladus for that matter), it may look like microbes, or maybe something more complex. } The Search for Life Europa’s vast and unfathomably deep ocean is widely considered the most promising place to look for life beyond Earth. Recently discovered object 2019 LD2, originally believed to be the first cometary “Jupiter Trojan” asteroid, turned out to be an interloper comet masquerading as a member of the Trojan population. While evidence for an internal ocean is strong, its presence awaits confirmation by a future mission. Flexing from the tides likely creates the moon’s surface fractures. 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