Hubble discovers water vapour for the first time on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede

New Delhi: The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered evidence of water vapour in the atmosphere surrounding Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, our solar system’s largest moon, according to a study published on Monday in the journal ‘Nature Astronomy.’

Water vapour is formed during the sublimation process, which occurs when the moon’s icy surface changes from a solid to a gas. This water vapour was discovered by astronomers using a combination of new and archived Hubble observations.

According to previous research, Ganymede contains more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined, despite being 2.4 times smaller than our planet.

However, Ganymede is so cold that the surface is a frozen water ice shell, with temperatures reaching negative 300 degrees Fahrenheit (-184 degrees Celsius). There’s a salty ocean about 100 miles (161 kilometres) beneath this crust, and researchers knew that ocean couldn’t be evaporating through the ice shell to create water vapour.

JUICE, or Jupiter ICy moons Explorer, will be launched by the European Space Agency in 2022. It will arrive at Jupiter in 2029 and spend three years studying the planet and its three largest moons, including Ganymede. Researchers hope to learn more about the moon’s potential as a life-supporting environment.

However, Ganymede is so cold that the surface is a frozen water ice shell, with temperatures reaching negative 300 degrees Fahrenheit (-184 degrees Celsius). There’s a salty ocean about 100 miles (161 kilometres) beneath this crust, and researchers knew that ocean couldn’t be evaporating through the ice shell to create water vapour.

JUICE, or Jupiter ICy moons Explorer, will be launched by the European Space Agency in 2022. It will arrive at Jupiter in 2029 and spend three years studying the planet and its three largest moons, including Ganymede. Researchers hope to learn more about the moon’s potential as a life-supporting environment.

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