We’ve known since the 1970s that there’s likely water on Jupiter’s moon, Europa, but it’s now clear that it probably isn’t tens of kilometers beneath the ice everywhere. Scientists may be able to join.
Covered in a layer of ice perhaps 30 kilometers thick, the ocean so far seemed frustratingly out of reach for space missions. But in a new study published in the Trade Journal on Tuesday, Nature Communications It appeared scientists write that they have found an alternative route to collect samples from the deep waters of Europe.
They discovered a certain type of iceberg in Greenland, which is very similar to many icebergs in Europe. If both structures were based on the same mechanism, the water might be less deep in some places than previously thought and would be accessible to space missions.
“I thought, cool, that looks just like the weird thing I saw in my data from Greenland,” explains Dr. Riley Kohlberg, a geophysicist at Stanford University. In The Independent. What he saw in Greenland was the so-called Double Rim, a kilometer-long line of parallel ice ridges about two meters high, separated by a 50-meter wide valley. “If you cut it in half, it would look like a big M,” says Kohlberg.
On Earth, Greenland’s double ice ridge is the only one found so far, but there are plenty of them on the surface of Europa. It is also much higher, that is, from 160 to 200 meters.
traces of life
In Greenland, the double rim consists of water melting at the surface and then infiltrating the ice where it freezes again. There may be something similar in Europe, but the opposite is true: it is too cold for the ice to melt, it must come from below.
“This could be water from the depths of the ocean being forced upward by fractures in the ice sheet,” Kohlberg explains. “Or some of the ice inside is melting, because of a warm column of floating ice going up far enough.”
However, it does indicate that material located at a much greater depth under the ice can be found at a depth of several kilometers. Then it will be possible for future space missions to collect this material and check if it contains traces of life. Because drilling through 30 kilometers of solid ice will not work, but at a depth of a few kilometers. This is already happening on Earth.sources): independent
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