When looking for life in our Solar System, we’re mainly talking about Mars. There are two moons that astronomers believe might be better than Mars when it comes to hosting life: Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa.
There’s a new computer model made by NASA, which comes with support for this theory – beneath the icy crust of Europa, the interior ocean might be habitable.
Europa is the sixth-largest moon in the solar system, and it is also smaller than Earth’s moon, but still larger than Pluto. Scientists believe that the ocean of the moon may have formed after minerals rich in water released it because of the heat. This heat has been caused by the radioactive decay of the core of the satellite. And because of the gravitational interactions with Jupiter, the water is warm. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s life there. They need a little more than just warm water.
We know that billions of years ago, the ocean would have actually been acidic, and the concentrations of carbon dioxide, calcium, and sulfate might have been too high for the life that we know now.
According to Mohit Melwani Daswani, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “Our simulations, coupled with data from the Hubble Space Telescope, showing chloride on Europa’s surface, suggests that the water most likely became chloride-rich. In other words, its composition became more like oceans on Earth. We believe that this ocean [now] could be quite habitable for life.”
With data gathered about NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, we learned that the is material erupting from the moon’s surface right where a similar plume was sent years ago by Hubble. This might also be proof that there is liquid water below the icy surface.