Much as astronomers would want this to be true and skeptics would just shrug their shoulders, NASA s Hubble telescope has transmitted data that indicates that Ganymede, Jupiter s larges moon, might contain oceans of saltwater underneath its rugged interior and jagged terrains.
This came to light when scientists were trying to establish the magnetic fields of solar bodies. It is estimated that Ganymede s ocean is 10 times deeper than that of Earth s, about 60 miles wide and buried under 95 miles of its icy shell. And to this extent, astronomers believe this moon has more water than all the water on Earth, giving ideas that it might be habitable to microbes which are essential for organic life.
The solar system is now looking like a pretty soggy place, said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA headquarters.
This is not the first time solar scientists would conclude about the presence of underground water in the solar system, and this list includes Europa s moon in Jupiter and Saturn s moons of Titan an Enceladus. In fact, some separate groups of astronomers said earlier this week that hot springs may even be present underneath the chilly surface of Enceladus.
In the 1990s, NASA s Galileo spacecraft reported signs of an ocean in Ganymede, but the Hubble s observations appear to be more convincing and concrete than that of Galileo s, said Joachim Saur, professor of geophysics at Germany s University of Cologne, who led the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
With a diameter of about 3,270 miles, Ganymede is slightly bigger than Mercury and is one of the five dozen moons orbiting Jupiter. It is also the largest moon in Jupiter and the biggest moon within our solar system.
The European Space Agency is reported to want to launch an 8-year-mission to Jupiter in 2022, when the spacecraft is expected to orbit Ganymede for a closer view of its interior after it has circled Jupiter and flown by three of its largest moons. NASA is also reported to be constructing the radar for this mission.