MAR 04, 2019 6:58 PM PST

Astronomers Want to Know More About Jupiter's Galilean Moons

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

At least 79 confirmed moons are orbiting Jupiter as we speak, but four of those are of particular interest to astronomers because of their unique properties and distinctive geology – among those are Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, and Io.

Io is of particular interest because its composition shares a lot in common with the solar system’s terrestrial planets, and that’s unusual given the moon’s location in our stellar neighborhood, which is mostly comprised of gas and ice giants. Io also exhibits hundreds of active volcanos on its surface, which makes it a somewhat unique place.

Europa, on the other hand, is thought to play host to a deep, sub-surface ocean with more than twice the volume of Earth’s oceans. Astronomers believe that a briny ocean exists directly beneath the moon’s icy surface and that it might be teeming with organic molecules, and potentially life. More importantly, Jupiter’s gravitational influence is said to warm Europa from the inside out.

Ganymede is also thought to sport a sub-surface ocean because of some particularly unusual magnetic forces at work, but the moon’s distance from Jupiter leaves some astronomers skeptical of the presence of liquid water. Captivatingly, Ganymede is large enough to be considered a planet (if it were orbiting the Sun) and is the only known moon in the solar system to sport a magnetosphere, which protects it from space-centric radiation.

Finally, we have Callisto; the farthest moon from Jupiter. Not much is known about Callisto, but we do know that it sports more surface impact craters than most other objects in the solar system. Astronomers think that learning more about Callisto’s impact craters could be vital to understanding the early solar system.

Several spacecraft have explored the Galilean moons in recent memory, and other missions are scheduled to continue where they left off. It should be interesting to see what we can learn about these intriguing worlds as we get closer and probe them for answers.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Discovery of Phosphine on Venus - What Does It Mean?
OCT 07, 2020
Discovery of Phosphine on Venus - What Does It Mean?
A Nature Astronomy paper in September, titled "Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus", has led t ...
OCT 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Discover a Planet That "Shouldn't Exist"
OCT 27, 2020
Researchers Discover a Planet That "Shouldn't Exist"
Neptune was once known as a gas giant, but after scientists found that it was composed of heavy and volatile elements it ...
NOV 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
The Mystery of the Blue Ring Nebula is Solved
NOV 22, 2020
The Mystery of the Blue Ring Nebula is Solved
In 2004, the Blue Ring Nebula was first identified. It appeared as a faint gas blob with a star at its center and was un ...
DEC 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Watching a Nebula Fade
DEC 06, 2020
Watching a Nebula Fade
Nebulas are vast clouds of dust and gas that are remnants of exploded stars or in other cases, nurseries for where stars ...
DEC 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
DEC 12, 2020
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
Astronomers from Serbia have found that invisible structures created by gravitational interaction in our Solar System ge ...
JAN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
New Findings Suggest Dark Matter Doesn't Exist
JAN 08, 2021
New Findings Suggest Dark Matter Doesn't Exist
The existence of dark matter has been considered a 'given' for decades as a way to understand some of the less e ...
Loading Comments...