By: Erin Ruberry
New research reveals Jupiter moon Europa may have plate tectonics similar to those on Earth, giving new hope to the search for extraterrestrial life.
Our friends at DNews report:
"During studies of photographs taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft that orbited the gas giant from 1995 to 2003, planetary geologists have found it hard to explain why most of the crust was relatively new ice (on average, the icy surface is 40-90 million years old) and yet there was little evidence of old ice that had been crushed up on the surface to make way for the new material.
Their conclusion is that, like Earth’s rocky crust, there must be subduction zones where old material is pushed against plate boundaries, making the ice sink into the subsurface ocean, where it melts and gets cycled."
"Europa may be more Earth-like than we imagined, if it has a global plate tectonic system," planetary geologists Simon Kattenhorn said in a statement. "Not only does this discovery make it one of the most geologically interesting bodies in the solar system, it also implies two-way communication between the exterior and interior -- a way to move material from the surface into the ocean -- a process which has significant implications for Europa's potential as a habitable world."
Want to learn more? Get to know Europa: