Latest in Science

Image credit:

NASA proves that Jupiter's biggest moon is hiding an ocean

Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

NASA has long suspected that Jupiter's biggest moon, Ganymede, has a subsurface ocean, but that's hard to prove when it's in the outer solar system. Now, a team of scientists has found a way to provide evidence that an ocean does exist underneath its ice crust using the Hubble telescope. How? Well, Ganymede is the only moon in our solar system that has its own magnetic field. That, in turn, is connected to Jupiter's field since the moon's so close to the planet. This connection causes aurorae (like the northern lights here on Earth) that circle the moon's northern and southern poles, which turned out to be just what the scientists needed.

They used the Hubble telescope to observe (under ultraviolet light) how big each aurora's movements are. You see, a saltwater ocean would create its own magnetic field that would counter Jupiter's, restricting the lights' movement and causing them to perform an unenthusiastic dance -- and that's exactly what's happening on Ganymede. The team believes that beneath the moon's 95-mile-thick ice crust, there's a 60-mile-deep saltwater ocean: that's 10 times deeper than our planet's.

NASA already has its eyes set on a number of icy moons: Titan, Europa and Enceladus. But since the presence of water is essential to its study of life beyond our planet, we wouldn't be surprised if the agency conjures up a mission to Ganymede in the future.

[Image credit: NASA/ESA]

Source: NASA
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

The 2019 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

The 2019 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

View
Colin Furze made a real version of Junkrat’s RIP-tire from ‘Overwatch’

Colin Furze made a real version of Junkrat’s RIP-tire from ‘Overwatch’

View
Echo Studio review: Amazon finally nailed the audio quality

Echo Studio review: Amazon finally nailed the audio quality

View
The best USB car charger

The best USB car charger

View
GitHub will store all of its public open source code in an Arctic vault

GitHub will store all of its public open source code in an Arctic vault

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr