New Delhi: The Hubble Space Telescope has gleaned evidence of the presence of the water vapor in the atmosphere around Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, the largest moon in our solar system, a study on their findings was published on Monday in the journal ‘Nature Astronomy’.
The water vapor is formed during the process called sublimation – when the icy surface of the moon turns from a solid to a gas. Astronomers uncovered this water vapor while using a combination of new and archival observations from Hubble.
According to earlier research, Ganymede contains more water than all of Earth’s oceans put together, although the moon is 2.4 times smaller than our planet.
But Ganymede is so cold, with temperatures that can reach negative 300 degrees Fahrenheit (-184 degrees Celsius), that the surface is a frozen water ice shell. About 100 miles (161 kilometers) below this crust is likely a salty ocean — and researchers knew there was no way that ocean was evaporating through the ice shell to create water vapor.
The European Space Agency’s JUICE mission, or JUpiter ICy moons Explorer, will be launched in 2022. It will reach Jupiter in 2029 and spend three years observing the planet and its three largest moons, Ganymede included. Researchers hope to learn more about the moon as a potential habitat for life.