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Current Affairs

Jupiter’s moon Europa

Date: 23 April 2022 Tags: Space

Issue

 Researchers from Stanford University have claimed that Jupiter’s moon Europa remains a prime location for existence of life in solar system.

 

Background

Europa is made up of solid water ice. It is believed to contain abundance of water pockets beneath formations called double ridges.

 

Details

Researchers now claim that double ridges are similar to those seen on Earth’s Greenland ice sheet and formed over water pockets.

 

Europa

  • Europa’s diameter is about one-quarter that of the Earth and is even smaller than that of moon. Even though it has thin oxygen atmosphere, it is closest to host life.

  • The amount of water below the surface is assumed to be twice as that of Earth. Europa’s ice shell is 15-25 km thick and is floating on an ocean.

  • To study Europa, NASA is set to launch Europa Clipper in 2024. It will carry out multiple close flybys to Europa to gather information on the moon’s atmosphere, surface and its interior.

 

Significance of findings

  • The discovery of shallow water pockets beneath the double ridge increases the potential habitability of the moon.

  • The ice shell is said to be a dynamic system, which undergoes a series of geological and hydrological processes.

  • The double ridge is near the surface and obtains chemicals from volcanic activities from other moons and the volcanoes of Io.

 

Double ridge

  • During study, the team observed that the double ridge looked extremely similar to a minor feature on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet.

  • The “M” shaped crest in Greenland could be a miniature version of the most prominent feature found on the ice sheets of Europa.

 

Other moons of Jupiter

Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto are the most prominent moons of Jupiter. In total there are 79 moons of which only 53 are named.