EarthSky , a clear voice for science, Dec. 13, 2011, by Jorge Salazar
BRITNEY SCHMIDT SEES SIGNS OF WATER LAKES ON JUPITER’S MOON EUROPA
Scientists have discovered the strongest evidence yet of extraterrestrial, liquid water. A study of NASA images show evidence of underground lakes as big as the Great Lakes on Earth below the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The icy moon might support life.
In a study led by planetary scientist Britney Schmidt of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas, Austin, Jupiter’s ice-covered Europa shows lumpy, cracked areas called chaos terrains that researchers say are caused by movement of trapped pools of water in the ice.
Dr. Schmidt told EarthSky:
The real evidence for the lakes is the fact that at one location, one of these chaos terrains called Thera Macula, the surface is depressed in a large, circular area. And that circular area is around 100 by 100 kilometers. It’s relatively large, about the size of Lake Ontario. But the surface has dropped down by about 400 to 600 meters in this whole area. The big icebergs have kind of cracked up, and they’re floating along higher than that lowest point. And what that tells us is that the material below this feature on the surface is still liquid. So there’s a giant lake. If you use how much the surface is depressed as an indicator of about how much is below that, then you get an answer that is a lake that is 3-4 kilometers deep, which is in fact the depth of the Earth’s oceans. . .