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Hubble Space Telescope: Water vapor found near Jupiter's moon Ganymede

Hubble Space Telescope: Water vapor found near Jupiter’s moon Ganymede

An international research team has succeeded in finding signs of water vapor on Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, for the first time. Astronomers now report on this and explain that the first observations were successful as early as 1998. At that time, the measurement data was interpreted differently, and only new analyzes using the Hubble Space Telescope provided crucial information about water in the solar system’s largest moon. The water vapor found in this way does not come from the giant ocean below the surface, but is formed directly on the ice.

23 years ago, Hubble found a noticeable pattern in emissions of the icy moon’s thin atmosphere using a spectrometer, The team explains. Accordingly, streaks resembling those that provide not only the northern lights can be seen on Earth. Not only did they prove the existence of a permanent magnetic field, but they were also attributed to the presence of molecular oxygen. The differences in the bands were explained by the fact that atomic oxygen was also present. However, in new measurements in 2018, almost no atomic oxygen was found. Another explanation was necessary for the original observations.

The team led by Lorenz Roth of the Royal Technical University of Stockholm then found the explanation based on the different distribution of the northern lights in the two images from 1998. Thus, the aberrations are directly related to where the water ice on the moon’s surface turns into water vapor. So there is no relationship with the giant ocean below the surface, and water vapor is formed directly on the moon. For years, research has assumed with increasing certainty that there is an ocean of salt water tens of kilometers beneath the Ganymede icy surface that is ten times as deep as Earth’s deepest ocean.

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right Now Featured in Nature Astronomy The results were also collected about the detection of water vapor in Ganymede’s atmosphere during preparation for the planned Jupiter Goss mission. the AtmospherePeter Jimy moons NSThe Xplorer is scheduled to start next year and reach the giant gas system in 2029. Above all, the three moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto will be explored there. It concerns, among other things, whether conditions prevail over the icy moons on which life can arise and exist. After the discovery of water vapor, Roth says, the instruments aboard Gus could be better prepared for the task.

The first image of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede arrives on June 7, 2021, and was taken with a green filter.
(Image: NASA)


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