According to scientists, there is a relatively good chance that Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons with the largest ocean in the Solar System, harbors life.
If it weren’t for the fact that this celestial body is clearly a satellite of the planet Jupiter, it could easily pass as a planet due to its large size.
In fact, at over 5,200 km in diameter, Ganymede is even larger than Mercury and only slightly smaller than Mars.
In March 2016, the Hubble Space Telescope also made an exceptional discovery, revealing the existence of a large ocean of salt water on the satellite.
And, as far as we know, the presence of liquid water is vital when it comes to looking for extraterrestrial life.
“This discovery marks an important milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can accomplish ,” said John Grunsfeld, former deputy administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
“In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. Deep in the ocean beneath Ganymede’s icy crust opens up even more exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth .
Now, experts believe this moon could be one of the places where extraterrestrial life can be found in our solar system, in addition to Earth.
“We believe that the ocean of Ganymede contains more water than in Europe” , explains Olivier Witasse, scientist responsible for the “Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer” , the mission of the European Space Agency.
“There is six times more water in the oceans of Ganymede than there is on Earth, and three times more water than in Europa” (the smallest of the four moons that Galileo discovered with his telescope).
At about the same time “Juice” fully explores Ganymede and Europa, another NASA mission, called “Clipper” , will focus on studying the latter.
With the Cassini mission , which explores the moons of Saturn, in a few years we will have a complete panorama of the oceanic moons that surround the largest planets in the solar system.
“I hope we find extraterrestrial life on one of these moons.”
Ganymede, a moon that has its own magnetic field
Ganymede is the largest moon in the entire solar system and the only one with its own magnetic field. Thanks to the magnetic field, its poles have beautiful northern lights.
As the satellite is close to its host planet, Jupiter, Ganymede is within Jupiter’s magnetic field, so when it changes from its field to that of the planet, the northern lights also change.
According to initial information, “Juice” will take the ESA probe very close to Jupiter’s moons, at distances between 200 and 1,000 km.
Scientists are excited about what they can find.
The discovery of the enormous mass of H2o beneath the satellite’s icy landscape has, according to scientists, increased our chances of finding extraterrestrial life without having to leave our own solar system.