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  • richardmitnick 10:21 am on June 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Active seafloor volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Europa?", Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ), , ,   

    From Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ) and From NASA JPL-Caltech via EarthSky : “Active seafloor volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Europa?” 

    From Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ)

    and

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    via

    1

    EarthSky

    June 2, 2021
    Kelly Kizer Whitt


    Jupiter’s icy, ocean-covered moon Europa might have active seafloor volcanoes pulsing just out of sight. A May 25, 2021, statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that new research and computer modeling suggest the volcanoes. If they exist, NASA’s planned mission to this moon of Jupiter – the Europa Clipper mission – might be able to detect them.

    Scientists published their research on this subject on December 22, 2020, in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    The results come from detailed 3D modeling, showing how Europa’s internal heat is produced and transferred.

    2
    Jupiter has 4 moons large enough to see from Earth with small telescopes. First spotted by Galileo Galilei, they’re known as the Galilean moons. From top to bottom in this composite image they are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. This is also the order in which they orbit the planet, from closest (Io) to farthest (Callisto). Image via National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/JPL-Caltech (US)/ DLR German Aerospace Center [ Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.] (DE).

    Europa is Jupiter’s water world

    Europa is the smallest of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons. It’s nearly the same size as Earth’s moon. Europa is the smoothest body in the solar system, smoother on a planetary scale than a billiard ball. Scientists believe Europa’s smoothness is due to a large ocean underneath its water-and-ice crust. Beneath the floor of that ocean, scientists believe, Europa might be hot enough to produce seafloor volcanoes.

    And, if they exist, the scientists say, these undersea volcanoes on Europa might create an environment conducive to life.

    Scientists confirmed volcanic activity on Io, the closest of the Galilean moons to Jupiter, decades ago. Io is famous for its active volcanoes. In fact, Io is the most volcanically active object in our solar system!

    The active volcanoes on Io have a profoundly different source from earthly volcanoes. They’re due to Io’s nearness to Jupiter, whose powerful gravity stretches and squeezes the little moon. Io lies only 262,000 miles (422,000 km) from Jupiter. Europa lies 414,000 miles (670,900 km) from the gas giant.

    Is Europa, too, being squeezed by Jupiter enough to create active volcanoes, on the floor of its hidden ocean?

    3
    Artist’s concept shows what a cross section of Europa may look like. Scientists believe that Europa has an icy crust that covers an ocean, with a rocky mantle that may be hot enough to create seafloor volcanoes. Image credit: Michael Carroll via NASA/ JPL-Caltech.

    Active seafloor volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon

    Scientists, led by Marie Behounková of Charles University, created a computer model of Europa’s rocky interior. Earlier research had suggested that, like Earth, Europa has a an iron core, a rocky mantle and an ocean of salty water. Behounková and colleagues wanted to see how much Jupiter’s gravitational pull flexes Europa’s interior.

    Just as when you bend a paperclip back and forth until it’s hot to the touch, so Jupiter manipulates Europa. The flexing in Europa’s inner mantle forces energy into the moon’s interior, which then seeps out as heat. The modeling shows where heat dissipates. It’s concentrated near Europa’s poles where the heat produced by tidal friction is greatest. The model also suggested that Jupiter’s manipulation melts Europa’s rocky mantle. Melting in the mantle would increase the likelihood of volcanoes on Europa’s seafloor.

    Volcanoes are energy sources. On Earth’s seafloor, life thrives near hot-water volcanic vents. These earthly underwater volcanoes provide chemical energy that replaces sunlight, letting life flourish deep in the oceans, where no light can reach. As part of this new study, scientists examined the possible evolution of Europa’s volcanoes. How long might the volcanoes have been there, if they exist? Long-lived volcanoes on Europa might allow life to develop. Behounková commented:

    “Our findings provide additional evidence that Europa’s subsurface ocean may be an environment suitable for the emergence of life. Europa is one of the rare planetary bodies that might have maintained volcanic activity over billions of years, and possibly the only one beyond Earth that has large water reservoirs and a long-lived source of energy.”

    Europa Clipper mission

    The Europa Clipper mission is tentatively scheduled to launch in 2024 and to arrive in Jupiter’s vicinity in 2030. The spacecraft will fly by Europa repeatedly, analyzing its atmosphere and surface, looking for plumes of water or ejected particles that might have come from the moon’s seafloor.

    In addition, measurements of Europa’s gravity and magnetic field and any anomalies – particularly near the poles – might help confirm the predicted volcanic activity. Europa Clipper project scientist Robert Pappalardo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said:

    “The prospect for a hot, rocky interior and volcanoes on Europa’s seafloor increases the chance that Europa’s ocean could be a habitable environment. We might be able to test this with Europa Clipper’s planned gravity and compositional measurements, which is an exciting prospect.”

    Discovering whether Europa can support life will take us one step closer to understanding where in the greater universe life might exist.

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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    Charles University [Univerzita Karlova (CZ)] is the oldest and largest university in the Czech Republic. It is one of the oldest universities in Europe in continuous operation. Today, the university consists of 17 faculties located in Prague, Hradec Králové, and Pilsen. The Charles University belongs to top three universities in Central and Eastern Europe. It is ranked around 200-300 in the world.

    Faculties

    Among the four original faculties of Charles University were: the faculty of law, medicine, art (philosophy) and theology (now catholic theology). Today, Charles University consists of 17 faculties, based primarily in Prague, two houses in Hradec Králové and one in Plzeň.

    Catholic Theological Faculty
    Protestant Theological Faculty
    Hussite Theological Faculty
    Faculty of Law
    First Faculty of Medicine
    Second Faculty of Medicine
    Third Faculty of Medicine
    Faculty of Medicine in Plzeň
    Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Králové
    Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové
    Faculty of Arts
    Faculty of Science
    Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
    Faculty of Education
    Faculty of Social Sciences
    Faculty of Physical Education and Sport
    Faculty of Humanities

    Academic Institutes

    Institute of the History of Charles University and Archive of Charles University
    Center for Theoretical Study
    Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGE-EI) together with Czech Academy of Sciences)
    Environment Center

    Other units

    Computer Science Centre
    Centre for Transfer of Knowledge and Technology
    Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies
    Central Library of Charles University
    Agency of the Council of Higher Education Institutions

    Joint research centres of Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences

    BIOCEV
    Centre for Biblical Studies
    Centre for Medieval Studies
    Center for Theoretical Study

     
  • richardmitnick 9:43 am on May 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hints of Hidden Volcanoes Deep Inside Europa Boost Its Chances of Hosting Alien Life", Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ), , ,   

    From Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ) via Science Alert (AU) : “Hints of Hidden Volcanoes Deep Inside Europa Boost Its Chances of Hosting Alien Life” 

    From Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ)

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert (AU)

    27 MAY 2021
    MICHELLE STARR

    1
    Europa. (National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/JPL-Caltech (US)/SETI Institute (US))

    Jupiter’s ice-encrusted moon Europa is increasingly looking like the best place in the Solar System to search for extraterrestrial life.

    New modeling suggests that the rocky mantle, deep below the thick ice and salty ocean, could actually be hot enough for volcanic activity. Moreover, it could have been this hot over most of its 4.5-billion year lifespan.

    The finding has direct implications for the possibility of life lurking on Europa’s seafloor.

    “Our findings provide additional evidence that Europa’s subsurface ocean may be an environment suitable for the emergence of life,” said geophysicist Marie Běhounková of Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ).

    “Europa is one of the rare planetary bodies that might have maintained volcanic activity over billions of years, and possibly the only one beyond Earth that has large water reservoirs and a long-lived source of energy.”

    You might think an icy world far from the life-sustaining warmth of the Sun – where surface temperatures tend to peak at around -140 degrees Celsius (-225 degrees Fahrenheit) – would be an unlikely place to find living organisms, but there’s actually precedent right here on Earth.

    True, most life here does rely on a food web based on photosynthesis… but in some extreme environments, where the Sun never shines, life has found another way.

    In the dark depths of the ocean, too deep for sunlight to penetrate, volcanic vents seep heat into the waters around them. There, life is built on chemosynthesis, bacteria that harness the energy within geochemistry rather than solar energy to produce food.

    With the bacteria come other organisms that can eat them, thus creating an entire ecosystem down there in the dark.

    We know that Europa, beneath its thick shell of ice, harbors a global ocean – we’ve seen liquid water shooting out of cracks in the ice in the form of geysers. We’ve also detected what is very probably salt. This answers some of the conditions for chemosynthetic hydrothermal life as we know it.

    What we don’t know is whether Europa has volcanic activity below its seafloor, opening into vents like they do here on Earth.

    It’s possible; Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanic world in the Solar System, due to the constant stresses placed by Jupiter’s gravitational tugging (and possibly the gravitational tugging of the other Jovian moons) that heat the interior.

    Given that Europa is farther from Jupiter than Io, though, doubt remains – so Běhounková and her colleagues decided to try and figure it out.

    They used detailed modeling to simulate the evolution and heating of Europa’s interior from the time of its formation. They found several mechanisms at play that could be working to keep the planet from freezing completely.

    Firstly, heat released by radioactive decay of elements in the mantle likely contributed a significant fraction of the moon’s internal heat, especially early in Europa’s history.

    Over time, though, the changing stresses generated by tidal forces exerted by the moon’s elliptical orbit around Jupiter should have produced ongoing flexing in Europa’s interior.

    This flexing, in turn, produces heat – and it should be sufficient heat to melt rock into magma, resulting in volcanic activity that could be ongoing today, especially in the higher latitudes close to the polar regions.

    These simulations have given scientists signs of this activity to look for when probes such as NASA’s Europa Clipper and the European Space Agency’s JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) mission (due to launch in 2024 and next year respectively) get up close and personal with Europa.


    Gravitational anomalies could suggest the presence of deep magmatic activity, and the anomalous presence of hydrogen and methane in Europa’s thin atmosphere could be the result of chemical reactions occurring at hydrothermal vents. Deposits of fresh oceanic materials on Europa’s surface could indicate subsurface activity too.

    “The prospect for a hot, rocky interior and volcanoes on Europa’s seafloor increases the chance that Europa’s ocean could be a habitable environment,” said Europa Clipper Project Scientist Robert Pappalardo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who wasn’t involved in the research.

    “We may be able to test this with Europa Clipper’s planned gravity and compositional measurements, which is an exciting prospect.”

    First, however, we’ll have to wait a few more years for the spacecraft to get there. Curse the tyranny of distance!

    The team’s research has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Charles University [Univerzita Karlova (CZ)] is the oldest and largest university in the Czech Republic. It is one of the oldest universities in Europe in continuous operation. Today, the university consists of 17 faculties located in Prague, Hradec Králové, and Pilsen. The Charles University belongs to top three universities in Central and Eastern Europe. It is ranked around 200-300 in the world.

    Faculties

    Among the four original faculties of Charles University were: the faculty of law, medicine, art (philosophy) and theology (now catholic theology). Today, Charles University consists of 17 faculties, based primarily in Prague, two houses in Hradec Králové and one in Plzeň.

    Catholic Theological Faculty
    Protestant Theological Faculty
    Hussite Theological Faculty
    Faculty of Law
    First Faculty of Medicine
    Second Faculty of Medicine
    Third Faculty of Medicine
    Faculty of Medicine in Plzeň
    Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Králové
    Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové
    Faculty of Arts
    Faculty of Science
    Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
    Faculty of Education
    Faculty of Social Sciences
    Faculty of Physical Education and Sport
    Faculty of Humanities

    Academic Institutes

    Institute of the History of Charles University and Archive of Charles University
    Center for Theoretical Study
    Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGE-EI) together with Czech Academy of Sciences)
    Environment Center

    Other units

    Computer Science Centre
    Centre for Transfer of Knowledge and Technology
    Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies
    Central Library of Charles University
    Agency of the Council of Higher Education Institutions

    Joint research centres of Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences

    BIOCEV
    Centre for Biblical Studies
    Centre for Medieval Studies
    Center for Theoretical Study

     
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