New Delhi | Jagran Trending Desk: The night side of Jupiter’s icy, ocean-filled moon Europa may glow in the dark due to radiation, a new research conducted by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found.

Jupiter pounds Europa’s icy surface with electrons and other particles, bathing it in high-energy radiation night and day. Europa holds a massive ocean beneath its icy surface.   The shine is caused by energetic electrons penetrating the surface and energising the molecules underneath. These molecules release energy as visible light as they relax, as per a release by NASA.

“We were able to predict that this nightside ice glow could provide additional information on Europa’s surface composition. How that composition varies could give us clues about whether Europa harbours conditions suitable for life,” said Murthy Gudipati, lead author of the world published in Nature Astronomy.

Europa’s surface could be made up of a mix of ice and common salts. These salty components react to the radiation and emit their unique glimmer. To the eye, this glow can look either green, or blue, or white, depending on the material.  

“If Europa weren’t under this radiation, it would look the way our moon looks to us — dark on the shadowed side,” Gudipati added. “But because it’s bombarded by the radiation from Jupiter, it glows in the dark.”

Europa is the sixth-closest to Jupiter among all its 79 moons. The apparent smoothness of the surface and its icy crust has suggested that a water ocean exists beneath its surface. NASA’s flagship mission Europa Clipper  will observe the moon’s surface in multiple fly-bys. 

Posted By: Lakshay Raja