Jupiter’s moon, Europa is the biggest hope for life outside Earth

THE HANS INDIA |   Mar 01,2018 , 04:03 PM IST

Jupiter’s moon, Europa is the biggest hope for life outside Earth
Jupiter’s moon, Europa is the biggest hope for life outside Earth

Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System and the fifth from the Sun. Let’s take a look at one of the Jupiter’s moons which has more water than Earth -

Europa, one of Jupiter's 69 moons, was discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610.

Europa is Jupiter’s fourth largest and is slightly smaller than Earth's moon.

This moon is the scientific community's biggest hope for life outside Earth. 

As it is just not another moon, Europa holds special promise for Nasa with an ocean of water some 100 kilometres deep is believed to lie under its 20-kilometre thick ice.

The saltwater ocean on the moon, chemical ingredients and energy source would fulfil the three conditions necessary for life.

Similarities with Earth - 

Despite Europa’s surface pressure being lower than Earth's, the thin atmosphere is primarily composed of oxygen

The moon, being 1/4th of Earth’s size is believed to have more water than our planet.

Other similar characteristics include - iron core, a rocky mantle and a magnetic field.

A NASA mission - the Europa Clipper mission, to be launched in the early 2020s, will test and confirm the moon's potential to host life by determining the presence of the three conditions for life.

The mission will reach Europa several years after launch and a spacecraft will orbit the moon every two weeks for a total of about 45 flybys during which high-resolution images of the surface will be captured and its geology would be analysed.

The theory of an ocean supporting life may exist underneath the surface of the moon got contribution as it has the smoothest surface of any solid object in the Solar System.

The required nutrients to support life could have supply from the potential existence of volcanic or hydrothermal activity on the moon's seabed.

Scientists believe in chances of finding life on the moon as the heat generated by tidal flexing is suspected to keep the ocean in liquid form, further allowing it to absorb chemicals from the surface.



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