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The Search For Life In Europa

612 words - 3 pages

Europa was discovered alongside the other Jovian moons of Jupiter (Io, Ganymede, Callisto) by Galileo Galilei on January 8th, 1610. It is the Sixth closest moon to planet Jupiter and sixth largest moon in the Solar System. It takes Europa roughly every 3.5days to orbit Jupiter and spins just once per orbit which is why it shows the same face to Jupiter all the time (similar to Earth’s moon). It is also roughly the size of earth’s moon with water ice on its surface.1 Since the orbit of Europa is eccentric, it produces a higher tide when it is closer to Jupiter than when it is farther away. During close flybys by the Galileo space craft, scientist were able to describe the interior of Europa which shows that it has about 200km thick of an outer layer of water, an intermediary rocky mantle, and an inner core which is believed to be composed of iron sulfide and iron. All the waters in Europa’s shell are believed to be twice the total volume of Earth’s oceans. Galileo magnetometer also shows a magnetic field surrounding Europa which is induced by Jupiter. This has led to a possible explanation that there is a conducting layer of salty water present underneath the icy crust.2,3
The exploration of Europa’s ocean in search of past or extant life has been the primary goal for a visit to this moon. However, the frozen water on the outer shell of Europa is seen as a barrier for ocean exploration. Therefore, vehicles such as the cryobot and hydobot( underwater glider) can be used for this exploration. Cryobots are robotic vehicles that can move in an icy environment due to their abilities to thermally change a frozen solid state to liquid through which they can pass. The head part of a crybot heats any frozen medium which eventually allows the frozen substance to change phase from solid to...

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