According to experiments with irradiated ice in laboratories on our planet, the far end of Jupiter’s moons may glow green. The NASA Europa Clippers mission scheduled to launch in the middle of this century may have confirmed this strange phenomenon.
The Europa Moon, one of the 79 moons owned by Jupiter, is one of the candidates for life. Solar system, Except for the earth. This satellite may contain a favorable environment: an ocean full of liquid and salt water under the icy crust.
When simulating the surface conditions of Europa in the laboratory, from Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA and California Institute of Technology (NASA/JPL-Caltech) Stumbled upon an accidental discovery: this salty ice can be illuminated in the absence of sunlight.The research was published in the journal Natural astronomy.
Lead author Murthy GudipatiA JPL scientist revealed to SINC that the original goal of this research did not foresee this discovery: “We are studying the physical and chemical properties of European ice similar to those in Europe in a high-energy electronic environment, where The upper hand”.
He added: “But when using a remote camera and under certain conditions, we observed that the ice is shiny, so we changed all studies to include systematic spectroscopy studies of this phenomenon.”
These simulations can reproduce the high doses of radiation emitted by Jupiter on the surface of Europa, exposing salty ice to high-energy electrons. In this way, they found that the irradiated ice gave off a green light through a process. Electron-excited luminescence.
An illustration of the moon Europa, whose night side surface can shine on the opposite side of the sun. / NASA / JPL-Caltech
He explained that the intensity of the emissions depends on the specific composition of the ice, which “may help understand the chemical composition of the Europa surface.” Gudipatti, He emphasized that apart from natural lighting, no other objects in the solar system glow on its dark side.
This Galileo mission Infrared and infrared observations from Earth’s satellites provide data on the presence of sulfate and chloride salts, sulfuric acid and ice on the moon, and scientists have replicated these conditions on our planet.
Observe the Europa Clippers mission directly
The findings in the laboratory can be confirmed by direct observations to be carried out by the observation team. NASA European Clippers, Plans to launch the satellite before 2023 to study the habitability of the satellite.
The authors say that low-altitude flights over Europa can help determine and map the chemical composition of its night surface, thereby measuring the brightness of ice in different regions and different wavelengths.
These observations can also characterize Europa’s subterranean ocean, for example, by limiting its salinity, because the products of ice and marine matter that have been energy processed on its surface may have been exchanged on the geological time scale.
On the other hand, Gudipati believes that luminescence may occur in a similar way EuropaJupiter’s largest satellite is also exposed to large doses of radiation, “although it is much weaker than Europa, because it is farther from the earth.”
In the case of the moon IIt was pointed out that it is difficult to predict the brightness, “because there is not much ice detected on its surface, it seems to be composed of salty matter and sulfur”, although Europa’s discovery may be related to any satellite exposed to a strong environment. Jupiter radiation.
Gudipati, MS, Henderson, BL, and Bateman, FB “Laboratory predictions for Europa’s icy night.” Natural astronomy(2020).