Jupiter’s moon Europa churns out 1,000 tons of oxygen every 24 hours

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 05-03-2024 09:27 IST | Created: 05-03-2024 09:27 IST
Jupiter’s moon Europa churns out 1,000 tons of oxygen every 24 hours
Image Credit: Twitter (@NASAGoddard)

Jupiter's ice-covered moon Europa generates 1,000 tons of oxygen every 24 hours - that's enough to keep a million Earthlings breathing for a day. The findings are based on data collected by the Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE) instrument on NASA's Juno spacecraft.

Scientists estimate that Europa generates 26 pounds of oxygen every second (12 kilograms per second), substantially less than most previous studies which estimated over 2,000 pounds per second (over 1,000 kilograms per second).

Europa, the fourth largest of Jupiter's 95 known moons, is believed to have a vast internal ocean of salty water beneath its icy crust. Scientists are curious about the potential for life-supporting conditions to exist below the surface.

"Juno brought a new capability to directly measure the composition of charged particles shed from Europa's atmosphere, and we couldn't wait to further peek behind the curtain of this exciting water world. But what we didn’t realize is that Juno's observations would give us such a tight constraint on the amount of oxygen produced in Europa's icy surface," said JADE scientist Jamey Szalay from Princeton University in New Jersey.

NASA's upcoming Europa Clipper mission will investigate oxygen production on Europa when it arrives at Jupiter in 2030. The spacecraft will perform dozens of close flybys of the Jovian moon to determine if this ocean world has conditions suitable to support life.

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