Jupiter’s Moon Europa has Salty Ocean Bubbling to Surface, Scientists Say

From Sciencewr.com       : Science World Report

[ Another real life article relating to DOLPHIN of EUROPA theme!]

First Posted: Mar 07, 2013 02:02 PM EST
Europa

(Photo : NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk) Europa: as the human eye might see it

Underground oceans on Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, is bubbling to the surface and it’s also comprised of salty water like planet earth, making it the next perfect place to look for existence of life.

“We think the ice shell of Europa is serving as a window into the ocean below,” says Kevin Hand of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Europa likely has a sea salt composition similar to our own ocean.”

It is now possible to establish for the first time that some of the materials present on Europa’s surface: including the presence of a magnesium sulfate salt, a mineral called epsomite, could only originate from the ocean below.

Kevin Hand and astronomer Mike Brown from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) reached the conclusion the water rising to the surface of Europa is salty by looking at the moon’s surface and using spectroscopy, which is inferring physical properties through analysis of an object’s light.

“We now have evidence that Europa’s ocean is not isolated-that the ocean and the surface talk to each other and exchange chemicals,” Brown said in a press release issued by the W.M. Keck Observatory, which they used to make the measurements.

“That means that energy might be going into the ocean, which is important in terms of the possibilities for life there. It also means that if you’d like to know what’s in the ocean, you can just go to the surface and scrape some off.”

The authors point out that sodium and potassium are also known to exist on Europa’s crust, so now we can add magnesium to the mix. It’s less easily ‘sputtered’ off the trailing face of the moon by radiation, while sodium sulfates and potassium sulfates tend to be removed, so the magnesium component gets enhanced.

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