Water Vapor Discovered in the Atmosphere of a Jupiter Moon, Scientists Look for Habitability
According to NASA, astronomers have detected evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, leading experts to believe that this data could provide fresh insights into the possible habitability of “Jupiter-like exoplanetary systems.”
Since the 1990s, the Hubble Space Telescope has been studying Ganymede, the solar system’s biggest moon. Scientists examined the presence of water vapor during the last two decades using old data as well as fresh data published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The moon has more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined, according to NASA. However, the temperatures are so cold that any water on the surface freezes solid, and scientists decided that the water vapor could not have come from the evaporation of any subsurface oceans due to the freezing conditions.
The team that studied Ganymede’s atomic oxygen was led by Lorenz Roth of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.
Roth explained, “So far, just molecular oxygen has been observed.” “When charged particles erode the ice surface, this occurs. The water vapor we’re measuring currently comes from ice sublimation, which is generated by water vapor thermally escaping from warm icy regions.”
Ganymede’s ocean would be around 100 miles beneath the crust, therefore the water vapor would not represent the ocean’s evaporation. For solutions, astronomers turned to ultraviolet Hubble observations. (3/7) pic.twitter.com/iUMCNBElkR
July 26, 2021 — Hubble Space Telescope (@HubbleTelescope)
While the evidence does not confirm the moon’s ability to support life, it does offer scientists with knowledge about the moon’s atmosphere, history, and the evolution of other gas giant planets.
The discovery also adds to the knowledge base for the JUICE mission, which stands for “Jupiter ICy Moons Explorer.” The European Space Agency (ESA) is planning to launch the mission in 2022.
“Our findings can provide vital information to the JUICE instrument teams, which they can use to adjust their observation plans and make the best use of the spacecraft,” Roth added.
According to NASA, the JUICE mission will arrive on Jupiter in 2029 and will spend at least three years observing Jupiter and its three largest moons. The. This is a condensed version of the information.