Discovery of water vapour around Jupiter’s Ganymede by Hubble

Jul 30, 2021 | Shaoni Ghosh

Discovery of water vapour around Jupiter’s Ganymede by Hubble title banner

The Discovery


The Hubble Space Telescope is basically a space telescope that was launched in the year 1990 and it orbits 547 kilometres (340 miles) above Earth and travels about 8 kilometres(5 miles) every second. This telescope was employed by the scientists in order to understand how planets and galaxies are formed. It also observed comets, discovered moons around Pluto and spotted black holes.


The Hubble Telescope was previously known as a ‘Large space telescope’ and through this, scientists have been able to discover the way the universe works. In simple terms, it helps scientists to know about the beauty of the universe and beyond.


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Recently, the Hubble Telescope made an extraordinary discovery. It discovered water vapour around Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede. Ganymede is the largest and most massive among all the Solar System’s moons. It is the ninth-largest object of the Solar System.


The water vapour has been observed around the icy layer of the moon. Through the process of sublimation i.e. the conversion from the vapour state into its gaseous form from its solid state without actually going through the liquid phase, the vapour has blanketed itself around the surface.


The Process


NASA says that scientists have used fresh as well as archival datasets in order to proceed with such an incredible discovery. The research work that was done before provided a superficial analysis of Ganymede containing more water than all the oceans on Earth. 


But due to low temperature, the water on the surface becomes frozen and therefore, the water vapour was not able to “represent the evaporation of this ocean”. Because, if it is roughly estimated, we can observe that Ganymede’s ocean can be found 100 miles below the crust.


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This recent discovery will give a heads-up to European Space Agency’s upcoming mission, JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer). This mission is going to be launched in the year 2022 and shall take seven years i.e., 2029 to reach Jupiter. 


The detailed research provided a golden opportunity to explore and analyse nature in general and focus on Ganymede as a potential habitat in particular. According to The Times Of India, Roth stated, “Our results can provide the JUICE instrument teams with valuable information that may be used to refine their observation plans to optimize the use of spacecraft.

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