NASA (North American Space Agency) had already stated that Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, was the most likely place to have life beyond Earth. Now a study shows that the chemical balance of the satellite’s oceans is much like Earth’s.
Research shows that there may be sufficient hydrogen and oxygen to the formation of life there, although there is no volcanic activity on Jupiter’s moon. It was already known that Europe has other elements favorable to life such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen peroxide and sulfur.
“Europe is covered by a relatively thin layer of ice, has an ocean [net under the ice] in contact with rocks in the background, is geologically active and bombarded by radiations that create oxidants and form, when mixed with water, ideal energy for life, “said Robert Pappalardo of NASA scientist in 2013.
The study, published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that oxygen production both on Earth and in Europe is about ten times higher than the production of hydrogen.
On Earth, our oceans produce hydrogen and heat when the salty sea water penetrates the cracks of the earth’s crust and reacts with minerals. The aim of the scientists now is whether this reaction also happens in Jupiter’s satellite.
Europe also has cracks in its crust and they are five times larger than the Earth: about 25 kilometers deep. However, the ESA (European Space Agency) signed a contract of 350 million euros with Airbus Defence and Space to build Juice, a probe that will study Jupiter and its icy moons in 2020
According to Elizabeth Robinson, head of the financial sector of NASA, the environment with a lot of radiation that prevails around Jupiter and distance from Earth will be the biggest challenges for this project. When NASA sent the Galileo probe to Jupiter in 1989, it took six years to the probe reached the fifth planet of the Solar System. Other probes NASA has already spent close to Europe, especially to Galileo, but none specifically focused on the moon, which is one of dozens orbiting Jupiter.