The Frozen Oceans of Europa Hold as Much Table Salt as Earth's

Under one of Jupiter's moons' icy shells may lie an ocean just like on Earth.

Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, is covered in a thick layer of ice. Scientists believe that oceans are hidden beneath that ice, and that they may have more in common with our own earthly ones that previously known. 

RELATED: IS IT WORTH IT? THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SPACE EXPLORATION

A new study in which researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectograph (STIS) to scan Jupiter's moon with infrared light, discovered the "spectral signature" of irradiated sodium chloride. 

In other words, table salt. 

How did they discover salt on Europa?

A study from 2015 sheds more light on the matter. 

Scientist Kevin Hand placed and observed ocean salt samples in a Europa-like environment. Hand them radiated the samples.

What he discovered was that his salt samples changed color to a yellowish shade, similar to an area on Europa called Tara Regio

The Hubble Space Telescope picked up sightings of a spectral signature on Tara Regio's scars, this leads the team to believe there is an abundance of seasalt on Europa. 

Tara Regio is a section of Europa that is younger than the rest of the moon's surface, leading researchers to believe the salt has come from the ocean beneath its surface.

Life on Europa?

If this is all true, and salt abounds in the oceans underneath Europa's freezing surfaces, it may mean that hydrothermal vents just like on the Earth's can also be found on the moon. 

This may mean life on the moon may exist. NASA is launching its Europa Clipper in order to further investigate the hability on the moon.

Advertisement