Hubble space telescope has presented the strongest evidence yet that there is indeed an ocean underneath the surface of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon.
Researchers believe this ocean may contain more saltwater in it than all the water of the oceans on the Earth’s surface.
Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field creating energetic charged particles that cause gases to light up like those we see on Earth.
Joachim Saur of the University of Cologne released in a news release that after he asked himself the question of whether you could use a telescope to look inside a planet’s body, he thought of the aurorae.
“Because aurorae are controlled by the magnetic field, if you observe the aurorae in an appropriate way, you learn something about the magnetic field. If you know the magnetic field, then you know something about the moon’s interior,” he said.
By using the Hubble space telescope to measure the slight shifts of two auroras, Saur and his research team found that a large volume of saltwater exists underneath Ganymede’s crust of ice.
If you’re a little lost at this point; you’re not alone! It’s a lot of information to get one’s head around, but if you look at the image below, you can see the pair of auroral belts encircling over the northern and southern mid-latitudes of Ganymede.
The auroral belts were observed in ultraviolet light by the Space telescope imaging spectrograph, highlighted blue.
Ganymede’s ocean is estimated by scientists to be whopping 100 kilometers thick; 10 times deeper than our oceans on Earth. Ganymede’s ocean is believed to be buried under a 150km thick icy crust.
Research findings have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research on 16thMarch, 2015.
What are your thoughts on this latest development? Do you think it is, after all, possible for there to be some form of alien life in space? Not necessarily a classic green alien as presented by the media and movies, but perhaps saltwater amphibians or sea life, which could exist in the underground ocean on Ganymede? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
Image credit: NASA/ESA
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