Europa is one of the moons that orbit Jupiter. Taking a first glance at any telescopic image of the moon, one can clearly observe the abundance of “red-cracks” on its surface. These visuals are a result of frozen water that is present on the surface of this moon.
The cracks were first discovered in 1990 during NASA’s Galileo mission. With the research and evidence at hand, it was discovered that those cracks on the surface are particularly because of the magnetic pull of Jupiter on the moon. As Jupiter exerts its force on Europa, the ice on it breaks, making way for the cracks that are visible on the surface. There are also variations in the color across the surface of the moon and that is said to be a result of different components of the frozen water. The reddish-brown cracks are primarily because of the non-icy matter, whereas a blue-white color is observed where there is an abundance of pure ice.
Astrophysicists are of a view that there is a possibility that an ocean exists beneath the surface of Europa. To take a further dive into this theory, European Space Agency conducted research on the previous findings of magnetic field studies that were once conducted by Galileo. The findings of the research were published in a study,
“An Active Plume Eruption on Europa During Galileo Flyby E26 as Indicated by Energetic Proton Depletions”.
It was known that the irregularity in the number of protons present in the vicinity of the moon was due to the plumes of water that initiated from within the moon. Just like the possibility of a subsurface ocean, scientists had also predicted these plumes of water but there was no direct evidence available earlier to prove their theory.
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This recent study has opened up new dimensions for the scientists to get to know more about the subsurface ocean through the plumes of water that shoot out from Europa into space.
The juice is being sent to the Jupiter system to further study the atmosphere of the planet and its two other moons namely, Ganymede, and Callisto along with Europa. The spacecraft is also fitted with sufficient technology to study the moon’s water vapor plumes.
H. L. F. Huybrighs E. Roussos A. Blöcker N. Krupp Y. Futaana S. Barabash L. Z. Hadid M. K. G. Holmberg O. Lomax O. Witasse. “An Active Plume Eruption on Europa During Galileo Flyby E26 as Indicated by Energetic Proton Depletions”. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL087806