Oxygen levels in Europa’s oceans may be the same as in Earth’s oceans.

Salt water in the ice crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa can transport oxygen from the surface to the subglacial ocean of liquid water, where the element could potentially nurture advanced aerobic life, that is, oxygen-demanding life. .

Some moons of giant planets from the outer solar system, possibly they have oceans in themhidden under the outer ice crust. It is believed to be on Jupiter’s moon Europa. there is an oceanIf radiolytic oxidants formed on the surface from existing chemical compounds under the influence of ionizing radiation and disintegrating them can effectively pass through the ice, it could be suitable for highly developed life and habitation.

An American research team led by Mark Hesse of the University of Texas at Austin proposes that oxidizers could be transported through ice by runoff from brine or brines formed during the formation of Europe’s chaotic landscapes. With the moon’s outward smoothness observed from a good distance, when viewed closely, it is actually covered in endless cracks, ridges and ice mounds that cover a quarter of Europa’s surface. It is believed that the process of formation of these surface features under the influence of Jupiter’s tidal forces also implies the appearance of large volumes of near-surface salt water. Authors of the article published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters This suggests that brines can drain from the underlying ice and transport oxidizers in processes called “porosity waves.” These impacts can span 20,000 years in the ice.

Europa is considered one of the best places in the solar system to look for alien life, as astronomers have found signs of oxygen and water, as well as chemicals that could serve as food for microorganisms. However, Europa’s ice crust, estimated to be between 10 and 30 kilometers thick, could prove to be an insurmountable barrier between the water and oxygen produced by sunlight and charged particles hitting Jupiter’s ice surface.

If life still exists in the subglacial ocean in any form familiar to earthlings, then there must be a way for this oxygen from the surface to reach it.

“The most plausible scenario based on the available data is that oxygen can be transported by brine or brine,” explains Hesse. Scientists believe that in regions where Europa’s ice crust has partially melted, salt water mixes with oxygen from the surface and carries it into the moon’s interior. A computer model created by Hesse and colleagues showed how this can happen to saltwater after a chaotic landscape has formed: saltwater seeps out in the form of “duty-cycle waves” that cause the ice pores to momentarily expand, allowing the saltwater to pass through. them before being sealed again. . This type of oxygen transport appears to be a highly efficient way of transporting oxygen through the ice: As a result of these processes, 86% of the oxygen from the surface can be delivered to the ocean. However, the data currently in the hands of scientists leaves a wide variety of oxygen levels transmitted to the European ocean in this way throughout its history – estimates differ by a factor of 10,000.

“According to the most optimistic estimates, the oxygen level in Europa’s oceans will be the same as in Earth’s oceans, giving hope that this oxygen can support life in the subglacial ocean,

Steven Vance, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says he has another co-author on the paper. “It’s tempting to think of some kind of aerobic organism living just under the ice. However, NASA’s Europa Clipper mission in 2024 could lead to major adjustments to estimates of oxygen content and other components of life on the icy moon.”

The theory was initially proposed by other scientists, but has now been tested by creating the world’s first physically-based computer simulation of these processes, where oxygen travels along with salt water under the “chaotic landscapes” of Europe.

“Our work shows that such processes are quite possible,” says Hesse. “So you could say that one of the unresolved issues regarding the habitability of Europe’s subterranean ocean is now resolved.”

Kevin Hand of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was involved in the European research and was not involved in these studies, said in an interview with the portal: University of Texas NewsHe says the new study provides a completely plausible explanation for oxygen transport on Europa: “We know that there are beneficial compounds like oxygen on the surface of Europe, but do they end up in the ocean below where they can be consumed by living organisms? ”

NASA’s automatic interplanetary station European TrimmerIt will launch from Earth in 2024, whose mission is to investigate whether there are conditions for life support on Europa. Numerous instruments of this device, including a radar echo sounder developed by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin, will help earthlings learn more about the existence and presence of life components on this moon of Jupiter.

For the first time, American researchers have performed computer simulations based on the physical laws of the processes of transporting salt water and oxygen through the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa. It turned out that the previously proposed theory was very plausible, and that oxygen from the surface could indeed be transferred to the inner ocean covered by a 10-30 kilometer ice sheet of liquid water, thereby supporting alien life there.

Source: Gazeta


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