Aug 19, 2022

Underwater snow reveals new clues about Europa as ocean world missions draw closer

Posted by in category: alien life

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is an ocean world encased beneath a thick crust of ice — a place where snow floats upward.

The underwater snow forms in the global ocean and travels up though the water to attach to submerged ravines and inverted ice peaks, according to new research. This same phenomenon takes place below ice shelves on Earth — and it may be how Europa builds its ice shell.

The finding, published Monday in the journal Astrobiology, suggested Europa’s ice shell may not be as salty as scientists first thought. Understanding the salt content of the ice crust is crucial as engineers work on assembling NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft, which is preparing to launch to Europa in October 2024.

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