In a press release NASA on its website talk about the discovery of an ocean on Ganymede, one of Jupiter's moons.
A research team from the University of Cologne, headed by Joachim Saur, made the discovery with the telescope Hubble, which was sent into space in 1990.
The method was to use the telescope to monitor the polar light, otherwise called aurora.
- I thought about how we could use the telescope in other ways. Can we use the telescope to see inside a planet? Then I thought of polar lights, Saur says in the press release.
- Polar Lights are controlled by the magnetic field. If you observe polar light in a special way, you can find out more about the magnetic field. If you know the magnetic field, you can find out something about the moon's interior, says Saur.
Saur knew that if there is a salty ocean beneath the surface of Ganymede, Jupiter's magnetic field would create a different magnetic field in this ocean, which would work against Jupiter's magnetic field.
Forces in these magnetic fields are so strong that they affect the polar lights movements. Saur and his research team can see by the movements of the polar light that there is an ocean beneath the surface of Ganymede.
Scientists estimate that the water is ten times deeper than the deepest ocean on Earth. Atop of the ocean there is a 150 km thick crust of ice.
- This discovery is a milestone, showing what Hubble can achieve, said John Grünsfeld at NASA's research department.
- During its 25 years in orbit Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. A deep ocean beneath the surface ice on Ganymede opens for exciting opportunities of life beyond Earth, he says.
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