Europe, the fourth-largest gas giant, Jupiter, orbiting around the moon, hides a salty, liquid ocean beneath its icy shell, allowing it to harbor. A new study has revealed that the surface of Europe is filled with sodium chloride ̵
The study, published Wednesday in Science Advances by researchers at Caltech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows for the first time how yellow spots on the surface of Europe detected by NASA decades ago indicate the presence of sodium detect chloride.
More astonishing is the fact that the table salt has been hidden in the field of vision for years. Scientists just did not look for it.
"Sodium chloride is a bit of invisible ink on the surface of Europe," said Kevin Hand of NASA in a press release. "You can not say it's there before the radiation, but after the radiation the color jumps right out on you."
To make the discovery, the team irradiated simple white table salt in a laboratory that simulated conditions on Europe. They discovered that the white salt had turned yellow in color, the same hue NASA's Galileo probe discovered on its imaging missions between 1995 and 2003. The surface emitted a chemical signal representing the irradiated table salt. That's it.
It is a particularly important insight, as it can tell us something about the chemistry of the oceans below the surface. If the sodium chloride comes from Europe, the ocean of the moon can be much more similar to the earth. In the distant future, it could be a resource or even settle. The authors note, however, that they can not yet say whether the near-surface table salt is definitely the composition of the subterranean ocean.
Yet, it opens the door to further study of Europe, suggesting that it may even be more geologically active than scientists once thought.
If you want to take a look at Jupiter and its moons, there is no better time.. Europe is particularly bright so you should have no trouble recognizing it. Take some popcorn and make a night out of it.