Astronomers have found the primary evidence of water vapor within the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, the most important moon within the system. They believe Ganymede may hold more water than all of Earth’s oceans. But finding water in liquid form there’s difficult. The temperatures are so cold that each one the water on the surface is frozen solid and therefore the ocean lies roughly 100 miles (160km) below the crust, said the ECU Space Agency. Still, scientists believe finding water may be a crucial initiative in knowing whether life could exist on a heavenly body or not. The astronomers analyzed archival datasets of the Hubble Telescope over the past 20 years to return to the present conclusion.
The ESA said identifying liquid water on other planets is crucial to know whether or not they are habitable.
The research is predicated on datasets going back to 1998 when Hubble took the primary ultraviolet (UV) pictures of Ganymede. These images revealed a specific pattern within the observed emissions from the moon’s atmosphere which was somewhat almost like those observed on Earth and other planets with magnetic fields.
Scientists later found that Ganymede’s surface temperature varies extremely throughout the day. Around noon, it’s going to become warm enough that the icy surface releases some small amounts of water molecules. Since the oceans lay miles below the crust, it’s unlikely that the water vapor might be from them.
“Initially only the O2 (molecular oxygen) had been observed,” said lead researcher Lorenz Roth, adding that this is often produced when charged particles erode the ice surface.
He said the water vapor his team has found originates from ice sublimation.
NASA, too, has released a video that describes the new finding. Watch it here:
This development has led to curiosity before ESA’s planned Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission in 2022. The mission is predicted to succeed in Jupiter in 2029 and can spend subsequent three years studying Jupiter and three of its largest moons, including Ganymede.