Scientists believe that Europa has an oxygen-rich ocean similar to Earth’s.
Jupiter’s moon Europa is an important moon in the search for life. The ice-frozen moon has a subsurface ocean, and evidence suggests that it may be hot, salty, and rich in the chemistry that makes life possible. To investigate whether Europa could support life in its subsurface ocean, NASA is preparing to send the Europa Clipper mission there. Through this. We will be able to get answers to many questions, among which the first question is, is there oxygen?
Water is essential for sustaining life, and Europa’s underground ocean has an abundance of water, but Europa has more water than Earth’s oceans. Life requires energy, and Europa’s energy source is an energy source from Jupiter that heats its interior and keeps its oceans from solidifying. This is what gives scientists a lot of hope. The surface of the frozen moon also contains oxygen, created when sunlight and charged particles from Jupiter collide with Europa’s surface.
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But there’s a problem, Europa’s thick ice sheet is a barrier between the oxygen and the ocean. Europa’s surface is frozen solid, so if there was any life there it would be within its vast ocean.
The question is, how does oxygen make its way from the surface to the ocean? So according to a new study, Europa’s icy shell contains pools of saltwater that are carrying oxygen from the surface to the oceans. These salt pools are present in the shell where some of the ice melts due to convection currents in the ocean. The diagonal lines that Europa formed above these pools look like what you see in the picture below. This semi-diagonal area covers about 25% of Europa’s frozen surface. This area is where mountain cracks, faults, and plains come together. Scientists think Europa’s ice sheet is about 15 to 25 kilometers (10 to 15 miles) thick.
These lakes are not directly connected to the subsurface sea but may drain into them. According to a study, salt lakes can mix with surface oxygen and, over time, deliver large amounts of oxygen to the deep underground ocean.
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The relationship between oblique regions and oxygen transport is not entirely clear. But scientists believe that tidal waves caused by ocean heat partially melt the ice, which appears as chaotic regions on the surface. The idea is that for oxygen-rich brine to flow into the ocean, the ice beneath the brine must be partially melted. And some research also suggests that the ocean floor may be volcanic.
Clipper is the first mission dedicated specifically to Europa, which will probe the composition of the ocean to see if it contains the ingredients necessary to support life, and whether or not Europa’s striae regions exist. What is the fact of formation, moreover, the thickness of the ice shell will be estimated and whether there is liquid water in and under it?
In this mission, they will also determine how the ocean interacts with the surface. Does any material from the surface work in the ocean below?
Europa Clipper will carry ten instruments that will work together to address these questions.
But we will have to wait for a while.
The Europa Clipper mission is scheduled to launch in October 2024 and will not reach the Jupiter system until 5.5 years later. Once there, his science phase is expected to last four years. So it might as well be 2034.
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