Europa’s surface is made of water ice and so it reflects 5.5 times the sunlight than our Moon does. The hydrogen floats away and the oxygen stays behind. $(window).resize(function(){ Credit: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD). Then ground-based telescopes on Earth, along with the Galileo spacecraft and space telescopes, have increased scientists’ confidence for a Europan ocean. That's a bad thing for life on the surface – it couldn't survive. Europa's bright, icy surface is a landscape unlike anything seen on Earth. Europa has only a tenuous atmosphere of oxygen, but in 2013, NASA announced that researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope found evidence that Europa might be actively venting water into space. 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. Liquid water and sources of energy are the essential prerequisites for Life. A 3D model of Jupiter's moon Europa, an icy moon with a hidden subsurface ocean. Site Manager: console.log("received message", event) Europa's surface is blasted by radiation from Jupiter. Scientists are using modern image processing techniques to create new views of Europa's surface. Gretchen McCartney, NASA Missions Provide New Insights into 'Ocean Worlds' in Our Solar System, Old Data Reveal New Evidence of Europa Plumes, Newly Reprocessed Images of Europa Show 'Chaos Terrain' in Crisp Detail, NASA Seeks New Options for Science Instrument on Europa Clipper, Radiation Maps of Europa: Key to Future Missions, NASA's Europa Flyby Mission Moves into Design Phase, NASA's Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter's Moon Europa, Europa's Ocean May Have An Earthlike Chemical Balance. The reduced density at greater distances is likely due to temperature: denser, rocky and metal material condenses out first, close to Jupiter or the Sun, while lighter-weight icy material only condenses out at larger distances where it is colder. If signs of life exist on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, they might not be as hard to find as scientists had thought, a new study reports. Europa might well have them. Media Contact: }, 300) 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. 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. Flexing from the tides likely creates the moon’s surface fractures. Europa’s water-ice surface is crisscrossed by long, linear fractures. if($full.length > 0){ On Earth, life forms have been found thriving near subterranean volcanoes, deep-sea vents and other extreme environments. The animal shares basic components of other fish but has a unique shape, and reaching that form required a very unlikely evolutionary pathway. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Psyche, the NASA mission to explore a metal-rock asteroid of the same name, recently passed a crucial milestone. Kristen Erickson Below its shell of ice, Europa contains a vast inner ocean that's thought to be in contact with its seafloor, potentially infusing the water with the energy and nutrients needed to support life. Long, linear fractures are often only 1-2 kilometers wide but can extend for thousands of kilometers across Europa’s surface. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. Credit: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD) Go to Galleries ›. While no plumes were observed while the Galileo spacecraft was in the Jupiter system in the 1990’s, more recent observations from telescopes such as Hubble Space Telescope, as well as a reanalysis of some data from the Galileo spacecraft, have suggested that it is possible that thin plumes of water are being ejected 100 miles (160 kilometers) above Europa’s surface. Jupiter's volcanically active moon Io casts its shadow on the planet in this dramatic image from NASA's Juno spacecraft. The possibility of life on Europa has been explored in some depth fictionally by Arthur C. Clarke in the three sequels to his 2001: A Space Odyssey – 2010, 2061, and 3001. The team measured the vapor using a spectrograph at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii that measures the chemical composition of planetary atmospheres through the infrared light they emit or absorb. { One of the most important measurements made by the Galileo mission showed how Jupiter's magnetic field was disrupted in the space around Europa.

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