Life on Europa: Water from a subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon, Europa, could reach the surface through seeps or erupt from hot water vents. This shows evidence of water ice. Brine, "salty water," has a lower freezing point than pure water, meaning it makes the water more habitable. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Privacy Policy The information you enter will appear in your e-mail message and is not retained by Phys.org in any form. Thank you for taking your time to send in your valued opinion to Science X editors. Get weekly and/or daily updates delivered to your inbox. If NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is ready, the mission will launch in 2024 — which is great considering some new findings. Some of this may come up from inside the moon in the form of sulphate salts, some of it can be delivered by meteorites, but the most likely explanation is that it comes from its sibling volcanic moon, Io. I began full-time freelancing about this topic in September 2012, after working as a business reporter, copy editor and web reporter at various publications. But there are also two other materials: "hydrated" sulfuric acid and sulphate salt. This moon of Jupiter might have life in a subsurface ocean. I've been writing about space exploration since 2004. “Understanding where these water plumes are coming from is very important for knowing whether future Europa explorers could have a chance to actually detect life from space without probing Europa's ocean," said lead author Gregor Steinbrügge, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, in a statement. Regardless, we definitely would appreciate a closer look. “The model proposes that when a migrating brine pocket reached the center of Manannán Crater, it became stuck and began freezing, generating pressure that eventually resulted in a plume, estimated to have been over a mile high,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in the same statement. That's a bad thing for life on the surface – it couldn't survive. Question about things moving through outer space, Solar Activity and Space Weather Update thread, Science X Daily and the Weekly Email Newsletter are free features that allow you to receive your favorite sci-tech news updates in your email inbox. But the observations were too few and limited for us to separately tell how deep and how salty the ocean is—let alone what kind of salts there are. Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors. This water would reveal the chemistry of the subsurface ocean and may contain microbes that live below. Here’s hoping that the Clipper mission maintains its funding and schedule so we can learn more in the coming decade or so. Medical Xpress covers all medical research advances and health news, Tech Xplore covers the latest engineering, electronics and technology advances, Science X Network offers the most comprehensive sci-tech news coverage on the web. Using a model, the researchers suggest that Europa's water partially froze into ice after the impact happened, creating "pockets" of salty or briny water in the crust. Scientists believe that hydrothermal circulation within the ocean, possibly driven by hydrothermal vents might naturally enrich the ocean in sodium chloride, via chemical reactions between the ocean and rock. It would be super-useful to have a spacecraft to observe Europa up close, to resolve this debate about whether the water plumes are indicative of a life-friendly environment. A passing spacecraft might even be able to sample Europa’s ocean without landing on the moon’s surface because it is possible that Europa’s ocean may be leaking out into space. You can be assured our editors closely monitor every feedback sent and will take appropriate actions. That Europa has a liquid ocean at all tells us that there is liquid water and a source of energy to stop it from freezing. Search for life on Europa: Nasa chooses tools that will look for living things on Jupiter’s moon. You can clearly see the cracks on Europa's icy surface in this colorized photo from NASA's Galileo ... [+] spacecraft. Europa’s vast and unfathomably deep ocean is widely considered the most promising place to look for life beyond Earth. These “extremophile” life for… Researchers gathered the data for a model using a long-dead mission, NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which finished work almost 20 years ago. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no Life may have developed in a deep ocean below surface ice on Jupiter's moon Europa. I've been writing about space exploration since 2004. part may be reproduced without the written permission. Plumes emanating from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus, which has a similar ocean, have been found to contain sodium chloride, making both Europa and Enceladus even more enticing targets for exploration. Earth’s first mission to conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Measurements have also shown evidence for sulphate salts, such as magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) but it has remained unclear where it comes from. Life, as we know it, needs liquid water and energy. Craters happen when small bodies crash at high speed into a world's surface. Jupiter’s moon Europa is thought to be one of the most likely abodes for microscopic life in our solar system. Here's the rub, though: the crust isn’t as life-friendly as the ocean below the surface. Your opinions are important to us. This has important implications for the potential existence of life in Europa's hidden depths. The type of life that might inhabit Europa likely would not be powered by photosynthesis – but by chemical reactions. Europa is proposed to be a top contender in the possibility of having extraterrestrial life. On Earth, life forms have been found thriving near subterranean volcanoes, deep-sea vents and other extreme environments. “The eruption of this plume left a distinguishing mark: a spider-shaped feature on Europa's surface that was observed by Galileo imaging and incorporated into the researchers' model.”. Now a new study, published in Science Advances, shows it may well be normal table salt (sodium chloride)—just like on Earth. On Earth, hydrothermal vents are thought to be a source of life, such as bacteria. If we look at the spectrum (the breakdown of light according to wavelength) of light reflected from the surface, we can infer what substances are there. The Galileo mission found evidence that it had a sub-surface liquid salt water ocean. The fact that it is salty gives us clues that the water may be in contact with rock—a process that could provide energy in the water to feed microbial life. I write about all things space -- exploration, astronomy and more. The ice-covered world may have liquid water, energy, and organic compounds – all three of the ingredients necessary for life to survive. Galileo observations revealed the presence of "hydrated" sulfuric acid on the side of Europa that faces backwards along its orbit, the trailing hemisphere. I began full-time freelancing about this topic in September 2012, after working as a business reporter, copy editor. or, by Chris Arridge, The Conversation. Salt, specifically the sodium ions in table salt, is also crucial for a whole range of metabolic processes in plant and animal life. Where do they come from? We do not guarantee individual replies due to extremely high volume of correspondence. The researchers were keen to point out that they might just be seeing the end-point of a complicated chain of sub-surface processes—the salt might just be part of the natural ice layers. Follow me on Twitter -- @howellspace. NASA is building a spacecraft called Europa Clipper that could give us more insight into how that Jupiter moon is spewing so much water into space. Has there ever been a planet-planet eclipse (i.e., observed from Earth)? Europa's surface is blasted by radiation from Jupiter. Europa /jʊˈroʊpə/ (listen), or Jupiter II, is the smallest of the four Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter, and the sixth-closest to the planet of all the 79 known moons of Jupiter. New research suggests Europa might produce water from within the icy crust of the Jupiter moon — although that doesn’t explain everything the Hubble Space Telescope has observed from Earth orbit.