Active Cryovolcanism on Europa?
This is an excerpt from my post on Astrobites:
Title: Active Cryovolcanism on Europa?
Authors: William B. Sparks, Britney E. Schmidt, Melissa A. McGrath, Kevin P. Hand, John .R. Spencer, Misty Cracraft, and Susana E. Deustua
First Author’s Institution: Space Telescope Science Institute
Status: Submitted, open access
Europa, one of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, is one of the most exciting places in the search for alien life in our solar system, rivaling both Mars and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Underneath a 15-25 km surface layer of ice, Europa very likely has a thick (~100 km) ocean of salty water with a rocky seafloor. Chemical reactions on the icy surface caused by high-energy particles from Jupiter’s radiation belts could provide some of the essential ingredients for life, but only if this material could somehow reach the liquid water beneath it. These geological properties make Europa a prime candidate for potential alien life.