Tag: io (page 1 of 2)

SASQUATCH MESSAGE FOR HUMANITY PART 07 ~ By Kewaunee Lapseritis ~ Galactic Federation of Light

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SASQUATCH MESSAGE FOR HUMANITY PART 06 ~ By Kewaunee Lapseritis ~ Galactic Federation of Light

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SASQUATCH MESSAGE FOR HUMANITY PART 05 ~ By Kewaunee Lapseritis ~ Galactic Federation of Light

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SASQUATCH MESSAGE FOR HUMANITY PART 04 ~ By Kewaunee Lapseritis ~ Galactic Federation of Light

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SASQUATCH MESSAGE FOR HUMANITY PART 03 ~ By Kewaunee Lapseritis ~ Galactic Federation of Light

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SASQUATCH MESSAGE FOR HUMANITY PART 02 ~ By Kewaunee Lapseritis ~ Galactic Federation of Light

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SASQUATCH MESSAGE FOR HUMANITY PART 01 ~ By Kewaunee Lapseritis ~ Galactic Federation of Light

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5 Sky Events To Enjoy this Week



ALT
Skychart by A. Fazekas/SkySafari


Excerpt from 

Green Giant, Lunar Triangle and Jovian Shadows A planetary pairing and moon dances take center stage in the heavens this week.

Neptune meets Mars this week for stargazers, while Jupiter's retinue plays shadow games.

Neptune and Mars. About an hour after sunset on Monday, January 19, look towards the southwestern sky for Venus and Mercury hanging near the horizon. Look higher up to see the ruddy beacon of Mars.

Telescopes trained on the red planet will reveal the very faint and tiny aquamarine disk of Neptune only 0.2 degrees north. The distant ice giant present quite a color contrast with ruddy Mars.

A stunning celestial trio low in the southwest sky forms this week with the crescent moon, Venus and Mercury.
Lunar Triangle. Just after the sun sets on Wednesday, January 21, gaze towards the thin crescent moon, which rests low in the sky toward the western horizon.

Joining it in a stunning triangular formation, and particularly eye-catching through binoculars, are the two innermost planets in our solar system, Mercury and Venus.

The waxing moon acts as a wonderfully convenient guide to spotting these two worlds.

Moon meets Mars. On Thursday, January 22, Earth’s lone natural satellite rises higher in the sky and pays a visit to the red planet. The curl of the moon's crescent will almost seem to point to Mars, just off to its left.

And wait just one more day, on Friday, January 23, when the moon will continue its journey across the sky, climbing higher to form a straight line connection with Mars and Venus. The dawn star will hang below its two companions, just above the horizon.

ALT
This skychart shows the moon pointing to Uranus in the early morning western sky.
Skychart by A. Fazekas/SkySafari


Moon and Uranus. After night falls on Sunday, January 25, look for the moon pairing up with the seventh planet from the sun, Uranus.

The two solar system objects will reside only 7 degrees apart, making them just fit into the same field of view in binoculars.

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Look for Jupiter in the early morning southeast sky and with a telescope soak in a triple Jovian moon shadow transit.
Skychart by A. Fazekas/SkySafari


Triplet Jovian Eclipse. In the early morning hours of Saturday, January 24, telescopes will reveal a trio of tiny black dots trekking across the face of Jupiter.

Three of the gas giant’s moons, Calisto, Io, and Europa all cast their shadows tight on the cloud tops of Jupiter at once starting at 1:27 am EST to 1:53 am .
Happy hunting!

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4 Sky Events This Week: Inner Planets Dance While Saturn Dazzles


Illustration of moon pairing with star in the Virgo constellation
The moon pairs with the brightest star in the constellation Virgo on Tuesday.
Illustration by A.Fazekas, SkySafari


Excerpt from news.nationalgeographic.com

An eclipse of a volcanic moon by the king of planets, Jupiter, will thrill stargazers this week, as Earth's moon rides above the ringed world, Saturn.

Moon meets Maiden. On Tuesday, January 13, early birds will enjoy a particularly close encounter with the last quarter moon of the month and with the bright star Spica. All the action takes place in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden, halfway up the southern sky at dawn.

The 250-light-year-distant star appears only 2 degrees below the moon, a distance equal to about the width of your thumb held at arm's length.

It's amazing to realize that the light from Spica left on its journey to Earth back in 1765. That's the year that Great Britain passed the Stamp Act, the first direct tax levied on the American colonies and a prelude of the parliamentary oversteps that led to the American Revolution.

Mercury at its best. Look for faint Mercury about a half-hour after sunset on Wednesday, January 14, just above the southwestern horizon.

The innermost planet will appear at its farthest point away from the sun, a moment called the greatest elongation. Sitting 19 degrees east of the sun, it would be challenging to track down its faint point of light if it weren't for the nearby, superbright Venus.

The planetary duo will appear only 1.3 degrees apart, making the pair particularly impressive when viewed through binoculars or a small telescope. Look carefully and you may notice that Mercury appears to be a miniature version of the half-lit moon...

Illustration of Venus and Mercury in close conjunction in the southwest sky
This skychart shows Venus and Mercury in close conjunction in the southwest sky after sunset on Wednesday.
Illustration by A.Fazekas, SkySafari

Volcanic moon eclipse. Sky-watchers armed with telescopes will witness a distant eclipse of Jupiter's moon Io in the early morning hours of Friday, January 16.

At 12:27 a.m. EST, the gas giant's own shadow will glide across the tiny disk of the volcanic moon, which will be visible to the west of the planet.

Also early on Thursday night at 10:56 p.m. EST, Jupiter's massive storm, the Great Red Spot, crosses the middle of the planet's disk. Appearing as an orange-pink oval structure, this hurricane circles the planet every 12 hours or so and is three times larger than the Earth. 

Illustration of Jupiter in the late night southwest sky
This wide-angle skychart shows the location of Jupiter in the southeast sky on Thursday evening and early morning Friday. The insert telescope view shows Jupiter and location of its moon Io just before it enters the planet’s shadow.
Illustration by A.Fazekas, SkySafari
Luna and Saturn. Later on, near dawn on Friday, January 16, the waning crescent moon will appear to park itself just 2 degrees north of Lord of the Rings.

The ringed world can't be missed with the naked eye since it is the brightest object visible in the southeastern predawn sky. Its proximity to the moon will make it that much easier to identify.
Train a telescope on this yellow-tinged point of light, and it will readily reveal its stunning rings, tilted a full 25 degrees toward Earth. Currently Saturn sits nearly 994,000 miles (1.6 billion kilometers) away from Earth, which means that the reflected sunlight off its cloud tops takes 87.4 minutes to reach our eyes.
Happy hunting!

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Top 6 tips for using ordinary binoculars for stargazing




Excerpt from earthsky.org


Admit it.  You’ve probably got a pair of binoculars lying around your house somewhere. They may be perfect – that’s right, perfect – for beginning stargazing. Follow the links below to learn more about the best deal around for people who want to get acquainted with the night sky: a pair of ordinary binoculars.
1. Binoculars are a better place to start than telescopes
2. Start with a small, easy-to-use size
3. First, view the moon with binoculars.
4. Move on to viewing planets with binoculars.
5. Use your binoculars to explore inside our Milky Way.
6. Use your binoculars to peer beyond the Milky Way.

1. Binoculars are a better place to start than telescopes. The fact is that most people who think they want to buy a telescope would be better off using binoculars for a year or so instead.  That’s because first-time telescope users often find themselves completely confused – and ultimately put off – by the dual tasks of learning the use a complicated piece of equipment (the ‘scope) while at the same time learning to navigate an unknown realm (the night sky).
Beginning stargazers often find that an ordinary pair of binoculars – available from any discount store – can give them the experience they’re looking for.  After all, in astronomy, magnification and light-gathering power let you see more of what’s up there.  Even a moderate form of power, like those provided by a pair of 7×50 binoculars, reveals 7 times as much information as the unaided eye can see.

You also need to know where to look. Many people start with a planisphere as they begin their journey making friends with the stars. You can purchase a planisphere at the EarthSky store. Also consider our Astronomy Kit, which has a booklet on what you can see with your binoculars.

2. Start with a small, easy-to-use size.  Don’t buy a huge pair of binoculars to start with! Unless you mount them on a tripod, they’ll shake and make your view of the heavens shakey, too. The video above – from ExpertVillage – does a good job summing up what you want. And in case you don’t want to watch the video, the answer is that 7X50 binoculars are optimum for budding astronomers.  You can see a lot, and you can hold them steadily enough that jitters don’t spoil your view of the sky.  Plus they’re very useful for daylight pursuits, like birdwatching. If 7X50s are too big for you – or if you want binoculars for a child – try 7X35s.

February 24, 2014 moon with earthshine by Greg Diesel Landscape Photography.
February 24, 2014 moon with earthshine by Greg Diesel Landscape Photography.

3. First, view the moon with binoculars. When you start to stargaze, you’ll want to watch the phase of the moon carefully. If you want to see deep-sky objects inside our Milky Way galaxy – or outside the galaxy – you’ll want to avoid the moon. But the moon itself is a perfect target for beginning astronomers, armed with binoculars. Hint: the best time to observe the moon is in twilight. Then the glare of the moon is not so great, and you’ll see more detail.

You’ll want to start your moon-gazing when the moon is just past new – and visible as a waxing crescent in the western sky after sunset. At such times, you’ll have a beautiful view of earthshine on the moon.  This eerie glow on the moon’s darkened portion is really light reflected from Earth onto the moon’s surface.  Be sure to turn your binoculars on the moon at these times to enhance the view. 
Each month, as the moon goes through its regular phases, you can see the line of sunrise and sunset on the moon progress across the moon’s face. That’s just the line between light and dark on the moon. This line between the day and night sides of the moon is called the terminator line.  The best place to look at the moon from Earth – using your binoculars – is along the terminator line. The sun angle is very low in this twilight zone, just as the sun is low in our sky around earthly twilight.  So, along the terminator on the moon, lunar features cast long shadows in sharp relief.

You can also look in on the gray blotches on the moon called maria, named when early astronomers thought these lunar features were seas.  The maria are not seas, of course, and instead they’re now thought to have formed 3.5 billion years ago when asteroid-sized rocks hit the moon so hard that lava percolated up through cracks in the lunar crust and flooded the impact basins. These lava plains cooled and eventually formed the gray seas we see today.

The white highlands, nestled between the maria, are older terrain pockmarked by thousands of craters that formed over the eons. Some of the larger craters are visible in binoculars. One of them, Tycho, at the six o’clock position on the moon, emanates long swatches of white rays for hundreds of miles over the adjacent highlands. This is material kicked out during the Tycho impact 2.5 million years ago.

View Larger. Photo of Jupiter's moons by Carl Galloway. Thank you Carl! The four major moons of Jupiter - Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto - are easily seen through a low-powered telescope. Click here for a chart of Jupiter's moons
Photo of Jupiter’s moons by Earthsky Facebook friend Carl Galloway. Thank you Carl! The four major moons of Jupiter are called Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. This is a telescopic view, but you can glimpse one, two or more moons through your binoculars, too.


4. Move on to viewing planets with binoculars. Here’s the deal about planets.  They move around, apart from the fixed stars.  They are wanderers, right?

You can use our EarthSky Tonight page to locate planets visible around now.  Notice if any planets are mentioned in the calendar on the Tonight page, and if so click on that day’s link.  On our Tonight page, we feature planets on days when they’re easily identifiable for some reason – for example, when a planet is near the moon.  So our Tonight page calendar can help you come to know the planets, and, as you’re learning to identify them, keep your binoculars very handy. Binoculars will enhance your view of a planet near the moon, for example, or two planets near each other in the twilight sky. They add a lot to the fun!

Below, you’ll find some more simple ideas on how to view planets with your binoculars.

Mercury and Venus. These are both inner planets.  They orbit the sun closer than Earth’s orbit.  And for that reason, both Mercury and Venus show phases as seen from Earth at certain times in their orbit – a few days before or after the planet passes between the sun and Earth.  At such times,  turn your binoculars on Mercury or Venus. Good optical quality helps here, but you should be able to see them in a crescent phase. Tip: Venus is so bright that its glare will overwhelm the view. Try looking in twilight instead of true darkness.

Mars. Mars – the Red Planet – really does look red, and using binoculars will intensify the color of this object (or of any colored star). Mars also moves rapidly in front of the stars, and it’s fun to aim your binoculars in its direction when it’s passing near another bright star or planet.

Jupiter. Now on to the real action!  Jupiter is a great binocular target, even for beginners.   If you are sure to hold your binoculars steadily as you peer at this bright planet,  you should see four bright points of light near it.  These are the Galilean Satellites – four moons gleaned through one of the first telescopes ever made, by the Italian astronomer Galileo. Note how their relative positions change from night to night as each moon moves around Jupiter in its own orbit.

Saturn.Although a small telescope is needed to see Saturn’s rings, you can use your binoculars to see Saturn’s beautiful golden color.  Experienced observers sometimes glimpse Saturn’s largest moon Titan with binoculars.  Also, good-quality high-powered binoculars – mounted on a tripod – will show you that Saturn is not round.  The rings give it an elliptical shape.

Uranus and Neptune. Some planets are squarely binocular and telescope targets. If you’re armed with a finder chart, two of them, Uranus and Neptune, are easy to spot in binoculars. Uranus might even look greenish, thanks to methane in the planet’s atmosphere. Once a year, Uranus is barely bright enough to glimpse with the unaided eye . . . use binoculars to find it first. Distant Neptune will always look like a star, even though it has an atmosphere practically identical to Uranus.

There are still other denizens of the solar system you can capture through binocs. Look for the occasional comet, which appears as a fuzzy blob of light. Then there are the asteroids – fully 12 of them can be followed with binoculars when they are at their brightest. Because an asteroid looks star-like, the secret to confirming its presence is to sketch a star field through which it’s passing. Do this over subsequent nights; the star that changes position relative to the others is our solar system interloper.

Milky Way Galaxy arching over a Joshua tree

Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters
Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters





5. Use your binoculars to explore inside our Milky Way.  Binoculars can introduce you to many members of our home galaxy. A good place to start is with star clusters that are close to Earth. They cover a larger area of the sky than other, more distant clusters usually glimpsed through a telescope.

Beginning each autumn and into the spring, look for a tiny dipper-like cluster of stars called the Pleiades.  The cluster – sometimes also called the Seven Sisters – is noticeable for being small yet distinctively dipper-like. While most people say they see only six stars here with the unaided eye, binoculars reveal many more stars, plus a dainty chain of stars extending off to one side. The Pleiades star cluster is looks big and distinctive because it’s relatively close – about 400 light years from Earth. This dipper-shaped cluster is a true cluster of stars in space.  Its members were born around the same time and are still bound by gravity.  These stars are very young, on the order of 20 million years old, in contrast to the roughly five billion years for our sun.

Stars in a cluster all formed from the same gas cloud. You can also see what the Pleiades might have like in a primordial state, by shifting your gaze to the prominent constellation Orion the Hunter. Look for Orion’s sword stars, just below his prominent belt stars. If the night is crisp and clear, and you’re away from urban streetlight glare, unaided eyes will show that the sword isn’t entirely composed of stars. Binoculars show a steady patch of glowing gas where, right at this moment, a star cluster is being born. It’s called the Orion Nebula. A summertime counterpart is the Lagoon Nebula, in Sagittarius the Archer.

With star factories like the Orion Nebula, we aren’t really seeing the young stars themselves. They are buried deep within the nebula, bathing the gas cloud with ultraviolet radiation and making it glow. In a few tens of thousands of years, stellar winds from these young, energetic stars will blow away their gaseous cocoons to reveal a newly minted star cluster.

Scan along the Milky Way to see still more sights that hint at our home galaxy’s complexity. First, there’s the Milky Way glow itself; just a casual glance through binoculars will reveal that it is still more stars we can’t resolve with our eyes . . . hundreds of thousands of them. Periodically, while scanning, you might sweep past what appears to be blob-like, black voids in the stellar sheen. These are dark, non-glowing pockets of gas and dust that we see silhouetted against the stellar backdrop. This is the stuff of future star and solar systems, just waiting around to coalesce into new suns.

Andromeda Galaxy from Chris Levitan Photography.
Andromeda Galaxy from Chris Levitan Photography.

Many people use the M- or W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia to find the Andromeda Galaxy.  See how the star Schedar points to the galaxy?  Click here to expand image.
Many people use the M- or W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia to find the Andromeda Galaxy. See how the star Schedar points to the galaxy?


6. Use your binoculars to view beyond the Milky Way.  Let’s leap out of our galaxy for the final stop in our binocular tour. Throughout fall and winter, she reigns high in the sky during northern hemisphere autumns and winters: Andromeda the Maiden. Centered in the star pattern is an oval patch of light, readily visible to the unaided eye away from urban lights. Binoculars will show it even better.

It’s a whole other galaxy like our own, shining across the vastness of intergalactic space. Light from the Andromeda Galaxy has traveled so far that it’s taken more than 2 million years to reach us.
Two smaller companions visible through binoculars on a dark, transparent night are the Andromeda Galaxy’s version of our Milky Way’s Magellanic Clouds. These small, orbiting, irregularly-shaped galaxies that will eventually be torn apart by their parent galaxy’s gravity.

Such sights, from lunar wastelands to the glow of a nearby island universe, are all within reach of a pair of handheld optics, really small telescopes in their own right: your binoculars.

John Shibley wrote the original draft of this article, years ago, and we’ve been expanding it and updating it ever since. Thanks, John!
Bottom line: For beginning stargazers, there’s no better tool than an ordinary pair of binoculars. This post tells you why, explains what size to get, and gives you a rundown on some of the coolest binoculars sights out there: the moon, the planets, inside the Milky Way, and beyond. Have fun!

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Hubble Survey Spots Two New Objects Beyond Pluto


Excerpt from

news.discovery.com

Scientists looking for targets beyond Pluto for NASA’s New Horizon’s spacecraft to visit will get more time on the Hubble Space Telescope, managers decided after a two-week pilot study revealed at least two candidate objects.

The New Horizons team had spent three fruitless years using ground-based telescopes to find a Kuiper Belt Object that will be within range of New Horizons after its July 14, 2015, flyby of Pluto. Last month, scientists got two weeks of observing time on Hubble for initial scans.

The deal was that if they found at least two candidates, they could have another 160 orbits worth of telescope time to ferret out a second suitable target for New Horizons...

The Kuiper Belt is an area of icy bodies left over from the formation of the solar system...

Analysis of an initial 200 Hubble images, taken between June 16 and June 26, showed that at least two Kuiper Belt Objects might be within range of New Horizons...


A more detailed search is scheduled to begin this month and conclude in August.

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The Mystery Behind Moon’s Strange Shapes

Earth's moon is pictured as observed in visible light, left, topography, center, where red is high and blue is low, and the GRAIL gravity gradients, right. The Procellarum region is a broad region of low topography covered in dark mare basalt. The g...

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Jupiter’s Europa Has Earth-Like Plate Tectonics And May Support Life



Europa's sliding 'continents' of ice: Jupiter's moon has plate tectonics like Earth

  • Scientists have found the first sign of this geologic activity on a solar system world other than Earth a year after discovering jets of water on Europa
  • Experts from the University of Idaho and the Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, say Europa could be more Earth-like than experts imagined
  • Latest find appears to solve a puzzle that has perplexed planetary scientists
  • It shows where old crust was destroyed and how the icy crust is expanding
  • Europa’s surface is considered to be relatively young at between 40 and 90 millions of years old, which can perhaps now be explained by plate tectonics
  • It is regarded as the most probable place in the solar system to host alien life.
    And now Jupiter’s moon Europa has been found to have tectonic activity like Earth.
    It is also the first time this specific type of geological activity has been observed in the solar system other than on our planet.
    Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter's moon Europa (pictured)  ¿ the first sign of this geologic activity on a solar system world other than Earth, raising hopes that life could one day be found there
    +5
    Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter's moon Europa (pictured)  – the first sign of this geologic activity on a solar system world other than Earth, raising hopes that life could one day be found there
    Less than a year ago, scientists discovered plumes of water vapour erupting from Jupiter's moon’s south polar region, so it may be possible for a robotic probe to sample Europa’s liquid water at a distance without landing on it.
    The latest find appears to solve a puzzle that has perplexed planetary scientists for years.
    Until now, researchers have had visual evidence of Europa’s icy crust expanding, but they could never find areas where the old crust was being destroyed to make room for the new. 
    Examining images of the moon taken by Nasa’s Galileo orbiter in the early 2000s, planetary geologists Simon Kattenhorn of the University of Idaho and Louise Prockter of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, discovered some unusual geological boundaries.
    The surface of Europa is slightly smaller than the Earth’s moon and is riddled with cracks and ridges. Blocks on the surface are known to have shifted in the same way blocks on either side of the San Andreas Fault move past each other on Earth.
    The surface of Europa is slightly smaller than the Earth¿s moon and is riddled with cracks and ridges. Blocks on the surface are known to have shifted in the same way blocks on either side of the San Andreas Fault move past each other on Earth
    +5
    The surface of Europa is slightly smaller than the Earth’s moon and is riddled with cracks and ridges. Blocks on the surface are known to have shifted in the same way blocks on either side of the San Andreas Fault move past each other on Earth

    JUPITER'S MOON EUROPA: THE 'MOST LIKELY PLACE IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM TO SUPPORT LIFE'

    Europa is the sixth closest moon to Jupiter and the smallest of the four Galilean satellites that belong to the planet.
    It was discovered by Galileo Galilei in January 1610 and is named after a Phoenician noblewoman in Greek mythology who was courted by Zeus and became the Queen of Crete.
    Europa orbits Jupiter in around three-and-a-half days with an orbital radius of 670,900km.
    It is slightly smaller than the Earth's moon, but at 3,100km in diameter it is the sixth largest moon and 15th largest object in the entire solar system.
    It is likely to have an outer layer of water, some 100km thick.
    The outer layer of the water is believed to be frozen with a liquid ocean underneath.
    The moon has plate tectonics like on Earth.
    It is one of the smoothest objects in the solar system with few craters on its surface, which is tectonically active and relatively young.
    Many parts of Europa’s surface show evidence of extension, where wide bands - up to tens of miles wide - formed as the surface ripped apart, and fresh icy material from the underlying shell moved into the newly created gap, a process akin to terrestrial seafloor spreading, according to the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
    ‘We have been puzzled for years as to how all this new terrain could be formed, but we couldn’t figure out how it was accommodated. We finally think we’ve found the answer,’ Dr Prockter said.
    Scientists studying Europa often reconstruct the moon’s blocks into their original configuration to get a picture of what the surface looked like before disruption occurred.
    It was when they were rearranging the terrain that the two experts discovered that more than 12,000 square miles (nearly 20,000 square km) of the surface in the moon’s high northern latitudes was missing.
    Further evidence suggested that the missing terrain had moved under a second surface plate - a scenario commonly seen on Earth at plate-tectonic boundaries.
    The two scientists said that ice volcanoes on the overriding plate possibly formed through melting and absorption of the slab as it moved below the surface, while a lack of mountains at the subduction zone, implies that material was pushed into the interior rather than crumpled up as the two plates mashed against each other.
    The surface of Europa is slightly smaller than the Earth's moon and is riddled with cracks and ridges. Blocks on the surface are known to have shifted in the same way blocks on either side of the San Andreas Fault (pictured in San Luis Obispo in California) move past each other on Earth
    +5
    The surface of Europa is slightly smaller than the Earth's moon and is riddled with cracks and ridges. Blocks on the surface are known to have shifted in the same way blocks on either side of the San Andreas Fault (pictured in San Luis Obispo in California) move past each other on Earth

    Less than a year ago, scientists discovered plumes of water vapour erupting from the moon¿s south polar region (illustrated), so it may be possible for a robotic probe to sample Europa¿s liquid water at a distance without landing on it
    +5
    Less than a year ago, scientists discovered plumes of water vapour erupting from the moon’s south polar region (illustrated), so it may be possible for a robotic probe to sample Europa’s liquid water at a distance without landing on it
    They believe the subducted slab has been absorbed into Europa's ice shell – which may be up to 20 miles (about 30 kilometers) thick - rather than diving through it into the moon’s underlying ocean.
    Europa’s surface is considered to be relatively young at between 40 and 90 millions of years old, which can perhaps now be explained by plate tectonics as older material was destroyed.
    Scientists have previously seen evidence of material moving up from under the shell, but until now, no mechanism had been found for moving material back into the shell, and possibly into the large ocean below the ice. 
    ‘Europa may be more Earthlike than we imagined if it has a global plate tectonic system,’ Dr Kattenhorn said.
    He told Space.com: ‘Earth may not be alone. There may be another body out there that has plate tectonics. And not only that, it's ice!’
    There have been various proposals to explore Europa over the years, such as the Cryobot (pictured) which would be taken underground by a larger drill before it was then released into the ocean, searching for signs of past or present alien life
    +5
    There have been various proposals to explore Europa over the years, such as the Cryobot (pictured) which would be taken underground by a larger drill before it was then released into the ocean, searching for signs of past or present alien life
    ‘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 subsurface – a process which has significant implications for Europa’s potential as a habitable world.’
    Some scientists said that plate tectonics were essential to how life evolved on Earth. The theory goes that tectonics replenished nutrients and helped to stabilise the Earth’s climate.
    Jupiter's moon’s shell is thought to be 12 to 19 miles (20 to 30 kilometres) thick to subducting plates probably plunge a mile below the surface, so it is unlikely that nutrients from the surface are carried down to the ocean quickly. But Dr Kattenhorn said that this could possibly happen over time.

    NASA SETS ASIDE $25 MILLION TO PROBE EUROPA

    Nasa has set aside £14.6 million ($25 million) to design probes that could reveal whether Europa is habitable.
    In July, the agency asked scientists to come forward with potential experiments for a Europa probe that could be launched in the 2020s and arrive at the icy satellite within three years of take-off.
    It said that next year, about 20 proposals will be chosen to receive shares of the £14.6 million ($25 million) for further study.
    The mission is designed to characterise the extent of Europa's ocean and its relation to the deeper interior.
    It will also look at the ice shell and determine global surface, compositions and chemistry, especially related to whether life could survive in that environment.
    Previous scientific findings point to the existence of a liquid water ocean located under the moon's icy crust.
    This ocean covers Europa entirely and contains more liquid water than all of Earth's oceans combined.
    Although Europa and Jupiter's other moons have been visited by other spacecraft, they were each limited to a single distant flyby of these satellites.
    Nasa’s Galileo spacecraft, launched in 1989 by the space shuttle, was the only mission to make repeated visits to Europa, passing close by the moon fewer than a dozen times.
    In December 2013, Nasa’s Hubble Space Telescope observed water vapour above the moon's frigid south polar region.
    This provided the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off the moon's surface, and a spacecraft could even be designed to fly through the plumes to make measurements of the composition of the underground ocean.

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