The large ocean that curves under Jupiter’s Moon ice shell, Europa is estimated to be similar to that on Earth. These findings were presented by scientists in a recent study.
Scientists generally think sulfuric salt dominates Jupiter’s moon Europa subsurface ocean, accommodating about twice as much water as all the oceans on Earth. But, the Hubble space telescope has detected the possibility of sodium chloride (NaCl) on the cold surface of Europa.
NaCl, the same material forms kitchen salt, possibly from the ocean. According to members of the study team, it was quite interesting considering the salty of the Earth’s ocean originating from NaCl.
“We need to revisit an understanding of the surface composition of Europa, as well as internal geochemistry. If this sodium chloride truly reflects internal composition, the Europa ocean might be more Earth-like than we thought before,” said lead author Samantha Trumbo of California Institute of Technology on Pasadena to Space on Friday (6/14/2019).
NASA Galileo spacecraft, which orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003, saw several strange yellowish spots on the surface of Europa. Then, laboratory experiments carried out under Europa surface conditions were simulated showing that irradiated NaCl was responsible for this color center.
Sign of salt in Jupiter’s moon
Therefore, Trumbo and his colleagues searched for signs of NaCl on Europa. They used the Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) instrument for four observations from May to August 2017.
Instead, the team found the only sign at the Moon’s leading hemisphere. In addition, NaCl is concentrated in complex, disturbed, and geologically young areas of the surface of Europa, where material flows from the sea down.
The hemisphere that follows Europa is hammered by sulfur compounds spewed out by one of Jupiter’s many moons, supervolcanic lo. But, hemispheres are protected from cosmic rain.
Thus, the relatively pure composition of the front hemisphere chaos field best represents Europa’s endogenous material. However, it is not known whether this is the problem.
“We believe sodium chloride comes from the interior. But, extrapolation for chloride-dominated interiors is less certain,” Trumbo said.