Photo: NASA Jupiter’s Satellite Europa is covered by kilometers of ice
The new discovery is especially important for the team probe the Europa Clipper, which will go to the moon of Jupiter in the middle of the 2020s to search for signs of life in its depths.
Analysis of the data collected by the Galileo probe in 1997, have helped scientists to find the next proof that on Europa, moon of Jupiter, there are active geysers. This will simplify the search of life in its waters. This is stated in an article published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
“Why it took us 20 years to discover this surge of activity of geysers? First, the science team Galileo just didn’t expect to see them and not looking for their footprints in the data. Second, the discovery of this eruption has demanded calculation of very complex computer models that simply it would be impossible to create in 1997” – said Sanja Jia from the University of Michigan in Ann arbor .
It is established that in Europe, one of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, Galileo is still open, under thick layer of ice there is an ocean of liquid water. Scientists believe Europa’s ocean one of the most likely havens of extraterrestrial life. In recent years astronomers have found that the ocean exchanges gases and minerals with ice on the surface and also confirmed the presence in it of substances necessary for the existence of germs.
The first possible traces of the existence of geysers on Europa, was found back in 2012, when the American astronomer Lorenz ROS discovered on ultraviolet photographs of Europe, obtained using the Hubble telescope, traces of unusual “light spots” near the South pole of the planet. ROS and his team considered these spots are eruptions of geysers, rising to a height of 200 kilometers from the surface of Europe.
These observations attracted the attention of scientists from NASA, and they spent in 2014, several additional sessions of observations of the moon, during which the Hubble has recorded three episodes of the eruption of geysers. A year ago scientists have found new clues to their existence, by observing the change in ultraviolet lights of Jupiter, generated by water emissions from Europe.
These observations, as told by Jia, has caused doubts among some planetary scientists, as it was at the limit of the sensitivity and resolution of the Hubble. Such changes in the brightness of Jupiter, as noted by skeptics, could be a coincidence due to errors in the instruments of the telescope, or they may not be associated with geysers on Europa and other events in the vicinity of the giant planet.
Jia and his colleagues managed to find “the first independent confirmation” of the fact that these geysers exist in reality, by studying the data that the Galileo probe, collected during flights over Europe.
Scientists drew attention to the fact that the automatic station NASA in December 1997, has fallen to the surface of the moons of Jupiter at the point where they found geysers on the images of the Hubble. This gave them the idea to check all the data that the probe is received during this rapprochement with Europe.
As discovered by planetary scientists, during this convergence, the probe was in a strange zone, where the plasma density was unusually high and the strength of the magnetic field of Jupiter was higher than usual. The science team for the Galileo paid no attention to it, however, the analysis of Jia and his colleagues showed that this anomaly arose as a result of that probe flying through a cloud of steam that emerged after the next release of geysers.
This discovery, as noted by Jia, will be particularly interesting for the team probe the Europa Clipper, which will go to the moon of Jupiter in the middle of the 2020s to search for signs of life in its depths. The presence of geysers on Europa means that you won’t have to drill the multi-kilometer layer of ice on its surface in order to “try” her water taste, conclude scientists.
Previously, NASA has revealed a new photo of the Great red spot on Jupiter. The image was made by the automatic interplanetary spacecraft Juno during rendezvous with the planet.
In addition, it published photos of the Northern hemisphere of Jupiter.