Europe’s cracks will hide pockets of water where life is possible

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[EN VIDÉO] Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, the 4 largest moons of Jupiter
We present you in the video the Galilean satellites, the four largest moons of Jupiter, discovered by Galileo in early January 1610. You can watch them dance around the gas giant with a pair of binoculars.

of the four largest satellites of JupiterEurope most likely to have a port extraterrestrial life, With its vast ocean of salt water covered with ice, which would contain two to three times more water than Earth, this icy Jovian moon holds many mysteries that researchers are trying to unlock.

In a study published on April 19, 2022 in the journal nature communication, researchers have drawn a parallel with an event from Greenland! they show there that the layer of ice that rises upeuropean ocean can be a real dynamic system allowing exchange with outside, Hence a potential chance to grace life.

Its ice shell will promote exchange with the outside

Europe may also have a lot in common with Northwest Greenland. Specifically, with a distinctive formation called a “double-ridge”, occupied by a team of geologists from Stanford University. In their study, the researchers draw a parallel line between this double ridge and europe ice structure,

“We were working on something completely different from Climate change And its effect on the surface of Greenland when we saw these little double ridges – and we could see the ridges go from ‘unformed’ to ‘formed'”Dustin Schroeder said, co-teacher in geophysics at Stanford University and co-author of the study.

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Ice penetrating radar examined in detail, scientists find pockets of water liquid Just below these ridges are shallow, much closer to the surface than the ocean beneath the ice. A closeness that would allow for more exchange with the outside world. “Because they’re near the surface, where Chemical elements from space, other moons and Volcano Of ioThere’s a Chance That Life Is Inside the Pocket of Shell’s WaterDustin Schroeder, a professor of geophysics at Stanford University and co-author of the study, explains. If the mechanism we see in Greenland is similar to how it is on Europa, it suggests that there is water everywhere. ,

Countless cracks for many life chances

Dividing the icy Moon in all directions, Europa’s surface double ridges can reach heights of more than 300 meters, separated by valleys of more than a kilometer. First observed in the 1990s by galileo probe Researchers hadn’t found a definitive explanation on their origins since 2003, which signed its Clap Off. Today it’s thanks to Equality An answer has been found along Greenland’s double ridges, as the study authors recall: “The mechanism we propose in this paper would have been almost too bold and complex to propose without being in Greenland.”De Schroeder said.

This distinctive structure would have been created by a phase change of water contained in pockets located just below the first layer of ice: liquid water rises to the surface through cracks in the ice, then freezes once lifted. Over time, it accumulates in one place, forming a ridge.

“In Greenland, this double ridge is formed where water from surface lakes and streams often flows to the surface and refreezes.said Riley Cullberg, first author of the study and doctoral student at Stanford. One way that shallow pockets of water could form on Europa would be for water from the underground ocean to creep into the ice shell through fractures – and this would suggest a fair amount of exchange took place inside the ice shell. could.

the ability to have a fast potential

The researchers show that their model only“Many but One Hypothesis”except that they have “The advantage is that our hypothesis has observations of the formation of a similar feature on Earth to back this upAs R.Kulberg points out. It opens up all these new possibilities for a very exciting discovery.”

Because this satellite of Jupiter may be located outside habitable zoneIt is he who has the most potential to harbor life, according to scientists, along with the moon Enceladus (approx. Saturn planet) This last discovery increases the likelihood, thanks to its possible exchange Nutrients with surface.

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Several missions intend to confirm or invalidate this hypothesis of life on Europa, such as Europa Landerdeveloped byesaAnd europa clipper, from NASA. for the latter, a radar similar to those used to study ice caps are planned, which will make it possible to investigate – or not – the presence – or not – of pockets of water beneath the double ridges.

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