Europa’s Surface Exchange with Underground Ocean

“Chloride salts bubble up from Europa’s liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they
are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter’s innermost large moon Io. This
illustration of Europa (foreground), Jupiter (right) and Io (middle) is an artist’s concept.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Magnesium should not be on the surface of Europa unless it’s coming from the ocean,” Brown
says. “So that means ocean water gets onto the surface, and stuff on the surface presumably
gets into the ocean water.”

“The finding suggests there is a chemical exchange between the ocean and surface, making the
ocean a richer chemical environment. This exchange, Brown said, “means that energy might be
going into the ocean, which is important in terms of the possibilities for life there. It also means
that if you’d like to know what’s in the ocean, you can just go to the surface and
scrape some off.'”