EUROPA (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     22nd March 2024        
Samadhaan

Context: Scientists are studying Europa, one of Jupiter’s many moons, to see if it could support life.

Europa

  • About: It is one of Jupiter's largest moons, among over 90 moons orbiting the planet.

oIt ranks as the sixth-closest moon to Jupiter.

  • Galilean Moons Discovery: Europa, along with Io, Ganymede, and Callisto, constitutes the Galilean moons.

oThese were the first moons discovered beyond Earth by Galileo Galilei in January 1610.

  • Composition and Atmosphere: Europa is primarily composed of silicate rock with a water-ice crust and likely an iron-nickel core.

oIts thin atmosphere is mainly oxygen-based.

  • Potential for Life: Despite its thin oxygen atmosphere, Europa is considered one of the most promising places in the solar system for finding present-day environments suitable for life beyond Earth.
  • Abundant Water: Beneath Europa's icy surface lies an estimated amount of water twice that found on Earth.
  • Ice Shell and Ocean: Scientists believe Europa's ice shell, about 15-25 km thick, is floating on an ocean estimated to be between 60-150 km deep.
  • Water Quantity: Despite its smaller size, Europa likely contains twice the water found in all of Earth's oceans.
  • NASA's Mission: NASA plans to launch its Europa Clipper in 2024, which will orbit Jupiter and conduct close flybys to gather data on Europa's atmosphere, surface, and interior.

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