NASA discovers that a captivating ocean world produces oxygen. Here’s how much.| Trending Viral hub

POT suspects that the moon covered in ice Europe houses a deep, deep sea – reaching about 40 to 100 miles (60 to 150 kilometers) deep.

And new evidence, of the space The agency’s Juno spacecraft targets surface processes that create an abundance of oxygen on Europa, some of which is transported to the world’s voluminous ocean. It’s not as much oxygen as some research has previously suggested, but it’s nothing to sneeze at:

“The ice-covered Jovian moon generates 1,000 tons of oxygen every 24 hours, enough to keep a million humans breathing for a day,” NASA said in a statement.

Europe, a world a little smaller than ours moon, orbits the gas giant Jupiter about 480 million miles away Land. Crucially, Europa lives in a region filled with powerful radiation produced by Jupiter’s magnetic field. As a result, energized particles (called “ions”) hit Europa’s surface. In doing so, these particles split water molecules on the moon’s surface, resulting in hydrogen and oxygen.

“Europe is like an ice ball slowly losing its water in a stream,” Jamey Szalay, a Princeton University scientist who led the new research, published in the scientific journal. Nature Astronomy, explains in the statement. “But in this case the current is a fluid of ionized particles swept around Jupiter by its extraordinary magnetic field.” Szalay works on one of the Juno spacecraft’s instruments, the Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment, or JADE.

Crushable speed of light

When the Juno spacecraft descended just 220 miles from Europa in September 2022, the JADE instrument successfully observed both oxygen and hydrogen generated by particles bombarding the moon. Measurements indicate that this activity generates 26 pounds (12 kilograms) of oxygen per second.

“Scientists believe that some of the oxygen produced in this way could reach the Moon’s underground ocean as a possible source of metabolic energy.” NASA explained.

A graphic showing how charged particles from Jupiter can create oxygen on Europa's surface.

A graphic showing how charged particles from Jupiter can create oxygen on Europa’s surface.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SWRI / PU

Life thrives in Earth’s salty oceans. There is certainly no evidence of life on Europa, but it could harbor environments that support life (as we know it). In other words, this moon could be a “habitable” world in space.

“It’s one of the few places that potentially has livable conditions.”

“It’s one of the few places that potentially has the conditions for habitability,” Scott Bolton, principal investigator for the Juno mission, told Mashable in 2022.

NASA is so intrigued by this icy moon that it will soon launch a dedicated probe there in October 2024. The spacecraft, called Europe Clipper, is the length of a basketball court and is designed to perform around 50 flybys of the distant Jovian world, evaluating whether it could host conditions suitable for life. It will arrive in 2030.

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