Image credit: NASA, ESA and A. Feild
By Rachel Feltman
NASA announced evidence on Thursday that Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, has a saltwater ocean under its icy surface. The ocean seems to have more water than all the water on Earth’s surface, according to new Hubble observations.
Scientists estimate that the ocean is 60 miles thick, which is about 10 times deeper than Earth’s oceans. But unlike our salty waters, Ganymede’s ocean is buried under 95 miles of ice.
While scientists have speculated since the 1970s about the presence of an ocean on Ganymede — the largest moon in our solar system — until now the only observational evidence came from a brief flyby by the Galileo spacecraft, which didn’t observe the moon long enough to confirm a liquid ocean.
“This discovery marks a significant milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can accomplish,” John Grunsfeld, assistant administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement. “In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. A deep ocean under the icy crust of Ganymede opens up further exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth.”
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