A new model of NASA scientists supports the theory that the inland ocean on the satellite of Jupiter, Europe can support life. In addition, they calculated that this water, which is believed to be the ocean beneath the surface of the ice sheet, could have been formed as a result of the destruction of minerals containing water due to tidal forces or radioactive decay. This work was first presented at a Goldschmidt virtual conference by a Daswani researcher and may be relevant to other satellites in the solar system.
Europe is one of the largest moons in the solar system. Scientists claim that since the Voyager and Galileo spaceships flew around, the surface crust has been floating in the subsurface ocean. However, the origin and composition of this ocean were unclear.
Researchers based at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California simulated geochemical reservoirs inside Europe using data from the Galileo mission.
Scientists were able to model the composition and physical properties of the core, silicate layer, and the ocean. They found that different minerals lose water and volatiles at different depths and at different temperatures. Researchers summarized these volatiles and found that they corresponded to the predicted mass of the current ocean. This means that they are probably present in the ocean itself.
Researchers have found that oceanic worlds such as Europe can form as a result of metamorphism: in other words, heating and high pressure caused by early radioactive decay or subsequent subsurface tidal movement can lead to the destruction of water-containing minerals and the release of trapped waters.
They also found that this ocean would initially be slightly acidic with high concentrations of carbon dioxide, calcium, and sulfate. However, the simulation, combined with data from the Hubble Space Telescope showing chloride on the surface of Europe, suggests that water is likely to have become rich in chloride. Others believe that the ocean of Europe is quite suitable for life.
Europe is one of the best chances to find life in our solar system. NASA’s Europa Clipper mission will be launched in the next few years, and therefore the work of scientists is aimed at preparing for the mission, which will explore the possibility of inhabiting the satellite of Jupiter. However, NASA models suggest that there are oceans in other moons. For example, on another satellite of Jupiter, Ganymede, and the moon of Saturn – Titan.