Monday 16 November 2020

Indian origin NASA researcher discovers Jupiter’s moon Europa glows in the dark

 We all know that Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. Moreover, it is also the planet with 79 moons. 

The gargantuan planet is far from being a hospitable planet with its surface filled with gases and liquids. However, researchers believe that one of its moons, Europa could possess life. 

Researchers have discovered that strong radiation from the large planet causes Europa’s dark side to glow in the dark, making scientists believe that it could sustain simple life forms.

This is according to a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy. This outcome was a result of several experiments conducted by NASA scientists to understand the effects of Jupiter’s radiation on the chemical composition of Europa. 

For this experiment, they built an ‘ice chamber’ at JPL in Pasadena, California. The chamber consisted of chemicals that scientists believe are found on the Moon. They then exposed the moon to a beam of high-energy electrons to simulate Jupiter’s radiation. Scientists found that every time the radiation hits the chemicals, it glows. And the glow went off the moment the beam was turned off. 

Later, scientists changed the chemicals to simulate an environment mixed with ice on Europa’s surface with sodium chloride (aka salt) and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) and saw that the ice glows in different intensities and in different colours like green, blue and even white. 

JPL's Murthy Gudipati, the lead author of the study, said “If Europa weren't under this radiation, it would look the way our moon looks to us -dark on the shadowed side. But because it's bombarded by the radiation from Jupiter, it glows in the dark.”

He added, “We were able to predict that this nightside ice glow could provide additional information on Europa's surface composition. How that composition varies could give us clues about whether Europa harbours conditions suitable for life.”

Now NASA is set to launch the Europa Clipper mission in the 2020s that could help prove this at the same time help us better understand the moon, while also seeing if it is capable of hosting life. 

(Source: India Times)

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