Jupiter’s Moon Europa’s Surface Is Covered With Massive Spikes Of Ice


It looks like Jupiter’s moon, Europa together with its subsurface ocean may have what it needs to foster alien life, says Gizmodo.

Latest research suggested that it would not be so easy to land a  spacecraft there. The surface of Jupiter’s moon seems to be covered with icy spikes, and some of the tallest ones reportedly measure five stories high.

Latest research that was published in Nature Geoscience suggests that Europa is covered with tall and sharp-edged icy blades called penitents.

Gizmodo reports that Europa, just like Saturn’s moon Enceladus, features a massive subsurface ocean which could serve as a potential habitat for extraterrestrial life.

Europa is covered in Penitentes

But, the presence of the penitentes—some reaching 50 feet into the sky—could “pose a hazard to a future lander on Europa,” the researchers write in the new study.

“Penitentes are composed of snow and ice, and they arise through sublimation—a chemical process in which ice turns directly into water vapor without melting into a liquid beforehand,” notes Gizmodo.

It seems that the remnants of this process are the penitents which point to the midday sun. These spikes need bright sunlight in order to form and also cold and dry still air.

You can also find similar structures here on our planet.

NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft is scheduled for launch in a few years 

More observations are required in order to prove that Europa is covered in penitents, but this could happen sooner rather than later.

NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft is scheduled to launch at some point between 2022 and 2025. The orbital probe has instruments, and it will come as close as 25 km or 16 miles to Europa’s surface.

The tech requirements of such a mission are really mind-blowing, and now after the latest news regarding Europa’s surface, things have become even more complicated than they seemed before.


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