Table salt or sodium chloride is a seemingly unremarkable substance which is ubiquitous in our daily lives.
Now a team of scientists has found the compound on EUROPA-Jupiter’s 4th largest moon-& the most promising factor in the search of extraterrestrial life in the solar system. Europa’s been pictured several times but this is the first time they found the evidence of the compound.
In the light of their findings, the team from Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory suggests that the salt is visible as yellow patches which indicates that Europa could’ve salty subsurface oceans like the ones on earth. These oceans are encased in an icy shell & are thought to be billions of years old containing as much as 3x of the volume of all liquid water on earth & comparatively being 10x deeper.
Using data from Galileo spacecraft, they found the presence of magnesium salts. But now from the observations conducted through Hubble Space Telescope, the authors of study identified the chemical signature of table salt in an area of Europa’s surface called Tara Regio.
“NaCl is a bit like invisible ink, before irradiation you can’t tell it’s there, but after irradiation the colour jumps right out at you.” Kevin Hand (a co-author of the study)
Nevertheless, these findings have the potential to transform our understanding about the composition of Europa’s ocean, opening up the possibility of it being similar to earth!
The findings are published in the journal SCIENCE ADVANCES.
Credits: Khola Zia