Jupiter's Moons Are Surrounded By A Deadly Force Field One Million Times Stronger Than The Planet

Thursday, 09 August 2018 - 10:43AM
Space
ESA
Europa
Thursday, 09 August 2018 - 10:43AM
Jupiter's Moons Are Surrounded By A Deadly Force Field One Million Times Stronger Than The Planet
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Pixabay and NASA Composite
Two of Jupiter's moons are generating electromagnetic waves up to one million times stronger than their host planet.

Scientists are mystified.

Things get stranger.

The moons in question are Europa and Ganymede, two of the four moons Galileo Galilei observed in the 17th century.

Europa is approximately the size of Earth's moon and its atmosphere is mostly oxygen. Europa has already raised some eyebrows in the scientific community: it was recently discovered that this moon shoots fountains of liquid water from underground oceans out into space. This revelation spurred a flurry of excitement and speculation that we might at last find alien life within our solar system.

These oceans turned out to have other implications as well: Europa's magnetic field is speculated to be generated by some kind of strange reaction between Jupiter's magnetosphere and Europa's liquid oceans.

Ganymede is where logic disintegrates. It's the largest moon in the entire solar system, measuring slightly wider in diameter than Mercury and is also the only moon that has a magnetosphere (which is typically a distinguishing feature of planets). You could fit 24,000 Ganymedes inside Jupiter – but this little moon's electromagnetic waves are over one million times stronger than the gas giant.

Geophysicist Yuri Shprits of the University of Potsdam, lead author of the study published in Nature Communications journal, is still grappling with the implications of this discovery, saying, "It's a really surprising and puzzling observation showing that a moon with a magnetic field can create such a tremendous intensification in the power of waves."

A planet's magnetosphere contains supercharged electrons that follow the lines of the magnetic field with enough intensity to cause waves in the energetic plasma. These waves contribute to so-called "killer electrons," the atomic version of killer bees that swarm spacecraft damaging them to the point of failure.

You can see why we might want to know where they are. NASA and the ESA are both scheduling missions to Jupiter's moons – and they may be going up against a killer force field. Aliens, it turns out, could be the least of our problems.



Science
NASA
Space
ESA
Europa
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