Tectonic activity has increased the chances of Jupiter’s moon Europa to habitability




Jupiter’s moon is seen as the most likely place for extraterrestrial life in the solar system. New research has shown the presence of Europe in the tectonic activity, similar to Earth’s. For the first time such a phenomenon is observed beyond our planet.

Discovered about a year ago emissions of water vapor in the southern polar region of Europe will allow robotic probe to collect the necessary fluid samples without contact with the surface of the satellite. The new discovery seems to solve the puzzle over which scientists have struggled for many years.

Until now, researchers did not have visual evidence of tectonics plates of ice in Europe – they could not find the area of ​​expansion, which is updated crust.


After analyzing the images of Europe made spacecraft “Galileo”, scientists at the University of Idaho and Johns Hopkins found on its vast surface of unusual geological boundaries of ridges and cracks.

The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

European researchers have tried to determine the original location of the ice slabs, to understand how the planet looked before the breach in the cortex. It was found that as a result of tectonic activity in Europe has lost 20 thousand square kilometers of the surface. This part has disappeared between the layers. A similar phenomenon is observed in the world, with some plates go under the other.

According to scientists, during the melting and absorption of the old plates can occur ice volcanoes. The absence of ridges in the area of ​​immersion some blocks under the other indicates that the material is inside and there is absorbed and not come out.

Water vapour

Researchers believe that shifted stove absorbed ice shell Europe (thickness of about 30 kilometers), and can not be immersed in the ocean of liquid water. In the past, scientists have found evidence of exit viscous ice on the surface, but its mechanism of absorption of the bark still remained a mystery.

Europe is a relatively young – 40-90 million years. Perhaps this is due to its high tectonic activity.

With such a tectonic system, Europe is more like Earth than expected. This discovery not only makes Europe one of the most interesting celestial bodies in the solar system in terms of geology, but also implies a two-way communication between the external and internal environment – a way to move material – a process that is seriously connected with the availability of Europe for life – say researchers .

It is believed that plate tectonics had an important impact on the development of life on earth. According to the theory, tectonic activity helped to redistribute nutrients and stabilize the Earth’s climate .


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