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Europa is one of the intriguing water worlds in our solar system and potentially a place where life could exist in a subsurface ocean. The discovery of sodium chloride means Europa's ocean could look more like those on Earth and even possibly include salt. Now, astronomers may have to think differently about the composition of Europa's ocean.
s]Previously, NASA's Voyager and Galileo spacecraft performed flybys of Europa, which led scientists to discover that the moon has a salty liquid water ocean beneath an icy shell. An infrared spectrometer aboard Galileo studied the shell and detected water ice and magnesium sulfate salts, which are similar to Epsom salts. It was believed that the shell was similar in composition to the same ingredients that made up the ocean.
"People have traditionally assumed that all of the interesting spectroscopy is in the infrared on planetary surfaces, because that's where most of the molecules that scientists are looking for have their fundamental features," said Mike Brown, study co-author and the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, in a statement.
But the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii provided new data with higher spectral resolution to show that the salts weren't magnesium sulfates.
We thought that we might be seeing sodium chlorides, but they are essentially featureless in an infrared spectrum,
"Magnesium sulfate would simply have leached into the ocean from rocks on the ocean floor, but sodium chloride may indicate the ocean floor is hydrothermally active," said Samantha Trumbo, lead study author and California Institute of Technology graduate student, in a statement. "That would mean Europa is a more geologically interesting planetary body than previously believed."
originally posted by: Archivalist
A very worthy post.
Here's to hoping we like what we find on Europa in the future, and that what we find on Europa likes us.
(If some crazy Europa x Earth war breaks out though, I want to abstain from taking sides, and declare allegiance to the planetoid object, formerly known as, the planet Pluto.)
originally posted by: ArMaP
Interesting news, but I hate clickbait titles like this.
While the article's title is "The ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa has table salt, just like Earth's seas", the article itself says "The discovery of sodium chloride means Europa's ocean could look more like those on Earth and even possibly include salt."
But, as I said before, interesting news.
originally posted by: wildespace
Of course it came from the ocean underneath.