Tags: hubble | jupiter | ocean | moon | ganymede

Hubble: Ocean on Jupiter Moon Ganymede Is Trapped Beneath Ice

By    |   Thursday, 12 Mar 2015 05:15 PM

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a saltwater ocean on Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, trapped underground beneath a surface of ice.

Identifying water is a critical component of searching for habitable worlds beyond Earth, a NASA release said, making this a significant discovery.

“This discovery marks a significant milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can accomplish,” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in the release. “In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. A deep ocean under the icy crust of Ganymede opens up further exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth.”



A team of scientists from Germany, led by Joachim Saur, figured out how to use the Hubble Telescope to look inside the moon.

“I was always brainstorming how we could use a telescope in other ways," Saur explained in the NASA release. "Is there a way you could use a telescope to look inside a planetary body? Then I thought, the aurorae (ribbons of electrified gas that circle the north and south poles of the moon)! Because aurorae are controlled by the magnetic field, if you observe the aurorae in an appropriate way, you learn something about the magnetic field. If you know the magnetic field, then you know something about the moon’s interior."

The ocean is estimated to be 60 miles deep, which is 10 times deeper than Earth’s oceans.

But despite the search throughout the solar system for water, The Verge reported that Ganymede still doesn’t look like a possibility for life. “This news doesn't mean that Ganymede should move to the top of the list of places to explore, however,” Verge writer Sean O’Kane said. “The ocean is likely around 100 miles below the surface, which would make it complicated to study with a robot.”

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The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a saltwater ocean on Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, trapped underground beneath a surface of ice.
hubble, jupiter, ocean, moon, ganymede
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2015-15-12
Thursday, 12 Mar 2015 05:15 PM
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