Hubble detects water vapor around Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.
The Hubble Space Telescope found evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere around Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, which is the largest moon in our solar system.
When the moon’s ice surface changes from solid to gas, water vapor is produced, a sublimation process. Therefore, astronomers combined new and archived Hubble observations to discover this water vapor.
Previous research has shown that the Ganymede is the ninth-largest celestial body in our solar system.
However, its water content is more than the sum of all the oceans on Earth.
At the same time, the Ganymede is very cold, and the temperature can reach minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit. (184 degrees Celsius) The surface is an ice sheet made of frozen water.
There may be the Aral Sea about 100 miles below the crust. Researchers know that the ocean cannot evaporate through the ice to produce water vapor.
The moon is named after the butler of the ancient Greek gods. In the meantime, Ganymede is not only the most powerful natural satellite in our solar system.
It is also the only satellite with a magnetic field that allows the northern lights to glow around the moon’s north and south poles.
However, Hubble took his first ultraviolet image of Ganymede in 1998 and discovered these aurora bands. Researchers initially believed that these auroras were related to the pure oxygen atmosphere, first found with the same telescope in 1996.
But it cannot explain some of these features, and they even seem to be slightly different from each other.
However, the surface temperature of Ganymede fluctuates significantly during the day. Around noon, the moon’s equator becomes hot enough that the cold surface rises or releases a small number of water molecules.
It explains the difference in the Hubble ultraviolet image. Ganymede is as solid as a rock, and the stream of charged particles from the sun is strong enough to break down and release water vapor.
The European Space Agency’s JUICE mission, or Jupiter ICy satellite explorer, will launch in 2022 and reach Jupiter in 2029.
However, it will take three years to observe the giant planet and its three largest satellites. The researchers hope to learn more about the moon as a potential habitat for life.
Besides, getting more information about Ganymede can help researchers understand more about gas giant planets. Moreover, how giant gas planets such as Jupiter and their moons form and evolve.