Scientists have uncovered evidence of warmer water melting and fracturing the outer layers beneath the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.
The information comes from the unmanned Galileo spacecraft, which arrived at Jupiter and its moons in 1995.
The results, published in the journal Nature, suggest that small lakes exist three kilometers below the crust of Europa.
Scientists have long suspected that a giant ocean lies somewhere between 10-30km beneath the ice crust.
The new data sent by Galileo reveals that surface waters are probably mixing with deeper water.
This would allow nutrients to easily travel between the surface and the ocean beneath; giving new hope that life could flourish in Europa seas.
“That could make Europa and its ocean more habitable,” said Britney Schmidt from the University of Texas at Austin, US, who analyzed images collected by the Galileo spacecraft.
The US and Europe hope to launch missions to Europa and Jupiter’s other moons, either late this decade or early in the 2020s.
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