New Evidence Suggests Europa's Ocean Is Like Ours

The icy surface of this Jupiter moon hides a vast body of liquid that most scientists believe is water. Thanks to improved spectrometry, they now believe that that water may be salty.

What's the Latest Development?

Two astronomers, Mike Brown and Kevin Hand, say that thanks to the Keck II telescope and its OSIRIS spectrograph, they have identified the presence of a type of salt on the icy surface of Europa, one of Jupiter's largest moons. According to them, this salt could only originate from the vast ocean that's beneath the surface, suggesting a "chemical exchange" going on between the surface and the ocean, and that understanding the makeup of that ocean could be as simple as sampling the surface itself. Their findings will appear in a forthcoming issue of Astronomical Journal.

What's the Big Idea?

The news is the first significant update on Europa since the end of NASA's Galileo mission in 2003. The moon is locked in relation to its parent planet, which means that one hemisphere is always leading in orbit. Galileo's spectrometer wasn't advanced enough to determine exactly what was on the surface of the trailing hemisphere besides water ice. After years of speculation, Hand says the discovery of salt is promising in one very important way: "If we've learned anything about life on Earth, it's that where there's liquid water, there's generally life. And of course our ocean is a nice salty ocean. Perhaps Europa's salty ocean is also a wonderful place for life."

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 

Read it at ScienceDaily

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

The dos and don’ts of helping a drug-addicted person recover

How you talk to people with drug addiction might save their life.

  • Addiction is a learning disorder; it's not a sign that someone is a bad person.
  • Tough love doesn't help drug-addicted people. Research shows that the best way to get people help is through compassion, empathy and support. Approach them as an equal human being deserving of respect.
  • As a first step to recovery, Maia Szalavitz recommends the family or friends of people with addiction get them a complete psychiatric evaluation by somebody who is not affiliated with any treatment organization. Unfortunately, warns Szalavitz, some people will try to make a profit off of an addicted person without informing them of their full options.
Keep reading Show less

10 science photos that made history and changed minds

These photos of scientific heroes and accomplishments inspire awe and curiosity.

Surprising Science
  • Science has given humanity an incalculable boost over the recent centuries, changing our lives in ways both awe-inspiring and humbling.
  • Fortunately, photography, a scientific feat in and of itself, has recorded some of the most important events, people and discoveries in science, allowing us unprecedented insight and expanding our view of the world.
  • Here are some of the most important scientific photos of history:
Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less