Europa: Why does Jupiter’s moon glow in the dark?


A research team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA) was able to monitor how the moon “Europa” – the sixth closest to Jupiter and the fourth by size – can glow in the dark, which may help a better study of Europa In the future.

Basically, the moon Europa consists of silicate rocks, covered by an ice crust from the outside, and some scientists believe that there are oceans of water beneath that crust.

To reach those results, which were published in the journal Nature Astronomy and announced by the agency in an official statement on November 9th, this research team designed a laboratory simulation of the atmosphere on this moon. This experiment was called the “ice room.” And where the snow was set in a condition quite similar to what happens on the moon Europa.

By virtue of the close distance between it and Jupiter, where it is located inside the planet’s magnetosphere, Europa is exposed to intense bursts of radiation periodically, and according to the study, this radiation causes the excitation of the atoms that make up the ice and its contents of salts such as sodium chloride and magnesium sulfide, which causes glare Faint night, with a color close to green, with a luster similar to the reflection of the moon’s rays on the sand on a dark night.

According to the research team, the main purpose of the study was to examine the nature of radiation; But they were surprised by additional, unthinkable results.

The team found that changing the ratios of chemicals inside the snow causes a change in radiation levels, which provides an excellent way to monitor the moon remotely, so that the nature of the glow can provide scientists with an opportunity to identify the moon’s chemical components.

Searching for life:

This comes in the context of preparations that are now in full swing to launch two promising missions to study Europa, the first belonging to the US Aerospace and Space Agency, which is called the “Europa Clipper” mission, and the second belongs to the European Space Agency (ESA), and the mission is called ” JUICE, both of which are expected to launch before the end of this decade.

The moon Europa is one of the most important areas in the solar system, which astrobiologists are interested in, as they search for traces of minute life in it, as long as water – in any form – was possible for life to exist.

In this context, the results of the new study come, and have great significance for these researchers, as this new mechanism can help them identify the presence of organic materials on the surface of the moon, which may indicate the existence of life.

Source: Nasa