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Space & Astronomy

Jupiter's moon Europa is covered in salt

By T.K. Randall
June 14, 2019 · Comment icon 5 comments



Europa's subterranean ocean may be filled with salt. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists have determined that Europa's ocean may be more like the Earth's oceans than previously thought.
The discovery was made by using the Hubble Space Telescope's Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) instrument to detect the 'spectral signature' of irradiated salt on the Jovian moon's surface.

While NASA's Voyager and Galileo spacecraft had previously detected the presence of salt on Europa, it was thought that this was magnesium sulphate-based rather than sodium chloride.

"No one has taken visible-wavelength spectra of Europa before that had this sort of spatial and spectral resolution," said planetary scientist and lead study author Samantha Trumbo.
"The Galileo spacecraft didn't have a visible spectrometer. It just had a near-infrared spectrometer, and in the near-infrared, chlorides are featureless."

While the discovery is not a guarantee that Europa's ocean is filled with table salt, the sodium chloride detected on the surface is situated in regions where the surface ice has broken up, suggesting that it may well have been seeping up from the water below.

"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 Trumbo.

"That would mean Europa is a more geologically interesting planetary body than previously believed."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
I love Europa news. Hopefully, we'll get some probes there to answer the 'is there life there?' question unequivocally before I die.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Silver Surfer 3 years ago
Who needs sea salt or Himalayan salt when you can have Europa Salt on you meal!
Comment icon #3 Posted by TXGULFCOAST 3 years ago
They can see what's going on here and have posted "NO TRESPASSING" signs.
Comment icon #4 Posted by DirtyDocMartens 3 years ago
Man, I'm glad there are smart people out there. If I was the guy responsible for figuring all this stuff out we still wouldn't know that the moon is made out of green cheese.
Comment icon #5 Posted by TripGun 3 years ago
Isn't that where Euro-Disney is?


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