Europa, Jupiter’s Moon, Is Covered In Salt, And That’s Significant

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Europa is one of Jupiter’s biggest moon, and it has picked the interest of a large number of researchers in recent times. A massive salty ocean can be found beneath the surface, and some voices claim that it may contain the elements which are required for the formation of life.

A joint study elaborated by researchers from Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory notes that the surface of the moon is covered in sodium chloride, the scientific name for table salt. Traces of the chemical were found in the yellow patches spotted on the moon by Voyager and Galileo a few decades ago.

The main surprise comes from the fact that the salt has been in plain view for decades, but the researchers didn’t look for it. A NASA researcher compared sodium chloride with invisible ink, stating it is only visible after it is irradiated.

Europa, Jupiter’s Moon, Is Covered In Salt, And That’s Significant

The team of researchers decided to see what would happen if they irradiated samples of salt in special laboratory conditions which were similar to the ones found on the surface of Europa. When the salt gained the same shade of yellow, which was observed with the help of the Galileo spacecraft during its imaging missions, the researchers decided to verify new data.

By using the Hubble Space Telescope, they compared, and the chemical signature of the yellow patches with the one of the irradiated table salt and it was a match. The discovery is quite significant because it allows researchers to learn valuable information about the chemistry of the underground ocean. If the sodium chloride originates generated by the ocean, it is likely that its chemical traits may be similar to those possessed by oceans found on Earth. At this point, the researchers are not able to verify if the salt does come from the ocean.

The new information will pave the way towards further investigations as some data infers that the geological activity may be stronger than it seems.


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