Hubble finds water vapor on Jupiter’s icy moon Ganymede, a possible place for extraterrestrial life

Hubble finds water vapor on Jupiter’s icy moon Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system and a possible place for extraterrestrial life

  • NASA has confirmed that there is water vapor on Jupiter’s icy moon, Ganymede
  • Researchers analyzed data taken by the Hubble Space Telescope 20 years apart
  • Experts believe that Ganymede’s temperature near the equator gets ‘so warm that the icy surface releases some small amounts of water molecules’
  • Ganymede’s surface temperature varies and around noon it can get warm enough for the icy surface to release traces of water molecules

NASA has confirmed that researchers have discovered the first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter’s icy moon, Ganymede, after researchers analyzed data spaced 20 years apart with the Hubble Space Telescope.

Experts have looked at ultraviolet observations of Ganymede made in 1998 and 2010 by Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and compared them with observations made in 2018.

The 1998 UV images from STIS showed bands of the moon’s atmosphere similar to Earth’s aurora. There was a discrepancy in the earlier observations that scientists at the time thought were due to higher concentrations of atomic oxygen.

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NASA has confirmed that researchers have discovered the first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter's icy moon, Ganymede, after researchers analyzed data taken 20 years apart.

NASA has confirmed that researchers have discovered the first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter’s icy moon, Ganymede, after researchers analyzed data taken 20 years apart.

Experts looked at ultraviolet observations of Ganymede made in 1998 and 2010 by Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and compared with observations in 2018

Experts looked at ultraviolet observations of Ganymede made in 1998 and 2010 by Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and compared with observations in 2018

Experts looked at ultraviolet observations of Ganymede made in 1998 and 2010 by Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and compared with observations in 2018

Researchers believe the temperature near Ganymede's equator gets 'so warm that the icy surface releases some small amounts of water molecules'

Researchers believe the temperature near Ganymede's equator gets 'so warm that the icy surface releases some small amounts of water molecules'

Researchers believe the temperature near Ganymede’s equator gets ‘so warm that the icy surface releases some small amounts of water molecules’

Experts looked at ultraviolet observations of Ganymede made in 1998 and 2010 by Hubble's (pictured) Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and compared with observations made in 2018 by Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

Experts looked at ultraviolet observations of Ganymede made in 1998 and 2010 by Hubble's (pictured) Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and compared with observations made in 2018 by Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

Experts looked at ultraviolet observations of Ganymede made in 1998 and 2010 by Hubble’s (pictured) Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and compared with observations made in 2018 by Hubble’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

Looking at the 2018 UV observations by Hubble’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), the researchers didn’t find much atomic oxygen in Ganymede’s atmosphere, meaning there was another reason for the differences in the UV aurora images. .

Now they think the temperature near Ganymede’s equator gets “so warm that the icy surface releases some small amounts of water molecules,” the European Space Agency said in a statement. pronunciation.

HISTORY OF GANYMEDEDE

Since its discovery in January 1610, Ganymede has been the center of repeated observation, first by telescopes on Earth and later by flyby missions and spacecraft orbiting Jupiter.

These studies show a complex icy world whose surface is characterized by the striking contrast between the two main terrain types – the dark, very old areas with many craters and the lighter, somewhat younger (but still ancient) areas marked with extensive series of grooves and ridges.

With a diameter of 5,262 kilometers, Ganymede is larger than both the planet Mercury and the dwarf planet Pluto.

It is also the only satellite in the solar system known to have its own magnetosphere.

“Until now, only the O2 had been observed,” the study’s lead author Lorenz Roth of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology said in a statement. pronunciation released by NASA.

‘That occurs when charged particles erode the ice surface. The water vapor we have now measured comes from ice sublimation, caused by the thermal escape of H2O vapor from warm icy regions.’

“The surface temperature of Ganymede varies widely during the day, and around noon near the equator it can get so warm that the icy surface releases some small amounts of water molecules,” ESA added in their statement.

“In fact, the observed differences between the UV images correlated directly with where water would be expected in the moon’s atmosphere.”

The Hubble Space Telescope is a collaboration between NASA and ESA.

The ESA’s upcoming JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) mission will launch next year and arrive at Jupiter in 2029, with the potential to incorporate Hubble’s latest findings into its mission, Roth added.

“Our results may provide the JUICE instrument teams with valuable information that can be used to fine-tune their observation plans to optimize the use of the spacecraft,” Roth added.

As part of JUICE’s mission, it will study the largest planet in the solar system, as well as three of its largest moons, “with particular emphasis on Ganymede as a planetary body and potentially habitable world,” the ESA added.

The findings were published Monday in the journal Natural Astronomy.

The largest of Jupiter’s moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, are known as Galilean moons, having been discovered by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in January 1610.

Ganymede is not only the largest moon of Jupiter, but also the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope still works and has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990

The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990 via the space shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889.

He is perhaps best known for discovering that the universe is expanding and the rate at which it is doing so – now devising the Hubble constant.

The Hubble Telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)

The Hubble Telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)

The Hubble Telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)

Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and has contributed to the publication of more than 15,000 scientific papers.

It orbits the Earth at a speed of about 27,300 km/h in low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 340 miles.

Hubble has a pointing accuracy of 0.007 arcseconds, which is like shining a laser beam on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s head from a dime about 200 miles (320 km) away.

Named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for devising the Hubble constant, the Hubble telescope is one of the greatest astronomers of all time

Named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for devising the Hubble constant, the Hubble telescope is one of the greatest astronomers of all time

Named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for devising the Hubble constant, the Hubble telescope is one of the greatest astronomers of all time

Hubble’s main mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) wide and a total of 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long – the length of a large school bus.

Hubble’s launch and deployment in April 1990 marked the most significant advances in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope.

Thanks to five maintenance missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place in it has never been the same.

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