Jupiter’s moon Europa is covered in smooth ice concealing a salty sea. At certain spots the hidden ocean erupts through cracks in the ice that would make Old Faithful look like a backyard sprinkler.
NASA researchers say new modeling shows the interior ocean of Jupiter’s moon Europa should be able to support life. It’s long been suspected that the waters of Europa , which lie beneath its icy shell and are heated by tidal motion or some element of the moon’s subsurface geology, might be habitable.
In this latest research, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory used data from the Galileo mission to model the composition and other physical characteristics of Europa’s hidden layers, including its subsurface ocean. They found that the world’s waters may not be as acidic as previously thought.
“Our simulations, coupled with data from the Hubble Space Telescope,showing chloride on Europa’s surface, suggests that the water most likely became chloride rich,” lead researcher Mohit Melwani Daswani explained in a release. “In other words, its composition became more like oceans on Earth. We believe that this ocean could be quite habitable for life.”