All around talking about the search for life on the moon of Saturn's Titan. We also wrote about this recently. Against the backdrop of news about Titan, it seemed that everyone else had forgotten about the satellites of the other gas giant. Fortunately, this is not so. NASA announced the launch of a new mission to the satellite of Jupiter Europe in 2025. According to the agency, scientists have finally begun designing a spacecraft capable of exploring the oceans of Europe.
What is known about Jupiter and its moons?
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. The diameter of Jupiter is 140 thousand km. This is 11 times larger than the diameter of our space house with you. Jupiter received the title of gas giant because of its composition – as you know, it is hydrogen and helium. So, there is no and cannot be any talk about any solid surface on this planet.
The pressure inside the planet as well as the temperature is higher than on the surface. Because of this, hydrogen changes its state and becomes liquid instead of gas. Scientists believe that inside this vast planet the stone core revolves. By the way, we know so much about the gas giant thanks to the Voyager mission, which launched in 1977.
You can discuss the Voyager mission and the satellites of the gas giants here.
However, if Jupiter itself is unlikely to be able to shelter life, one of its 69 satellites can quite afford it. Yes, yes, you read everything correctly – the gas giant has the largest satellite family in the solar system. By the way, there may even be more than 69, but so far astronomers have counted just that much.
What is unique in Europe?
From a distance, it seems that Europe seemed to be clumsily painted over – on the satellite of Jupiter, chains of dark stripes are seen up and down. This, as scientists later found out, is a long linear crack in the ice, many of which are filled with an unknown pollutant, which experts call "brown mud." In other places on the surface of the satellite massive ice blocks are visible. They drift, rotate and roll over in slush. A bewitching sight, isn't it?
Thanks to Jupiter’s gravity, which helps generate tidal forces, so that Jupiter’s satellite is rarely calm. However, the regular changes and dark stripes of Europe are best explained by the ice cap floating in the ocean of liquid water. It is believed that Europe is under an ice shell and holds a reservoir with a depth of 170 km.
More about the gas giant and other planets of the solar system can be found on our channel in Yandex.Zen.
Below the surface of this moon of Jupiter is liquid water. Scientists are aware of this thanks to previous missions, in particular thanks to the Galileo spacecraft, which flew past the gas giant in the 1990s. The presence of liquid water makes Europe a potential goal in search of life.
What is known about NASA's new mission
The mission was called Europa Clipper. The mission began to be prepared back in 2015, but only recently have experts come to grips with the development of the spacecraft. Europa Clipper will conduct an in-depth study of the water world, including finding out whether life can exist in the underground oceans of Europe.
Europa Clipper will make multiple flights to the satellite to reduce the impact on the apparatus of energy particles emanating from the magnetic field of Jupiter. The spacecraft will be equipped with nine scientific instruments, including cameras and spectrometers for obtaining high-resolution images from the surface of Europe, a magnetometer for measuring the strength and direction of the magnetic field (this will give an idea of the depth and salinity of the ocean) and a radar to determine the thickness of the ice crust over the ocean.
It's interesting: NASA is testing the Europa Clipper antenna before finding life on Jupiter’s satellite
The ice crust of Europe can have a thickness of tens of kilometers. Fortunately, scientists believe that there are several ways in which ocean water can rise to the surface of a gas giant satellite. In recent years, the Hubble Space Telescope has been observing Europe and filming as “water fountains” make their way through the icy carapace of the Moon of Jupiter.
What do you think Europa Clipper will detect on Jupiter's satellite? Share your opinion in the comments and our Telegram chat.