Water vapor has been spotted in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s largest moon. The Hubble Space Telescope has found evidence that Ganymede possesses water vapor in its atmosphere. Astronomers used Hubble and previously collected data to find water vapor in the moon’s atmosphere.
“So far only the molecular oxygen had been observed. This is produced when charged particles erode the ice surface. The water vapor that we measured now originates from ice sublimation caused by the thermal escape of water vapor from warm icy regions,” explained Lorenz Roth from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden.
Ganymede, with temperatures reaching -300 degrees Fahrenheit, has a surface covered by frozen water. Ganymede is also the only natural satellite known to have its own magnetic field. An older study of the largest moon in the solar system found that there is more water on it than in all the oceans on our planet, despite the fact that the moon is not as large as Earth is.
NASA’s Juno mission is currently exploring the largest moon in our solar system, Ganymede. Recent images taken by the mission have been released for public consumption. Juno, a NASA space probe that was launched on August 5, 2011, and since 2016 it has been researching Jupiter and its surroundings.
If scientists can figure out how a moon-like Ganymede formed, they can extrapolate and learn more about the formation of other satellites and the planets they orbit. Studying the composition of Jupiter’s icy moons is one way to figure out whether they have the right conditions for life. Ganymede was chosen as the primary target of study because it supports the possibility of life beneath its icy surface.
“Our results can provide the JUICE instrument teams with valuable information that may be used to refine their observation plans to optimize the use of the spacecraft,” concluded Roth.