A group of astronomers developed the first thermal map of Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon, whose cracked and furrowed surface suggests the satellite’s past geological activity. The new mapping may help scientists determine the locations and extent of such activity.
ALMA Telescope scientists developed the first thermal map of Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon
The mapping was done using four images of Europa obtained by the ALMA Telescope in Chile, which show the relationship between thermal variations in the area and significant geological features.
“We mapped the icy moon of Jupiter, Europa. It has a surface full of cracks and furrows that betray a long-standing geological activity,” ALMA Telescope’s representatives said on the official Twitter page of the project.
The researchers compared the new observations of Europa with a thermal model based on the data gathered by the Galileo space probe. Thus, the experts were able to study the temperature changes and generate the first complete map of the satellite’s thermal characteristics, according to the ALMA website.
Europa is still hiding many secrets, especially unknown geological activity
One of the results revealed the presence of a mysterious cold spot in the northern hemisphere of Europe. Scientists have considered this icy moon of Jupiter as the most promising place to look for the right conditions for extraterrestrial life forms.
“As Europe is an oceanic world with possible geological activity, surface temperatures are of great interest because they could help determine the locations and extent of such activity,” said lead author Samantha Trumbo from the ALMA Telescope.
The data indicate the existence of substantial evidence showing the presence of a salty ocean resting on a rocky core under Europa’s ice sheet. The young surface of Jupiter’s icy moon indicates that there are still unknown thermal or geological processes taking place there.