Jupiter's moon Ganymede may have 'club sandwich' of ice and oceans
Researchers have revealed that the largest moon in our solar system, a companion to Jupiter named Ganymede, may have ice and oceans stacked up in several layers like a club sandwich.
Previously, the moon was thought to harbor a thick ocean sandwiched between just two layers of ice, one on top and one on bottom.
The study, led by Steve Vance of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides new theoretical evidence for the team's "club sandwich" model, first proposed last year.
The results support the idea that primitive life might have possibly arisen on the icy moon. Scientists say that places where water and rock interact are important for the development of life; for example, it's possible life began on Earth in bubbling vents on our sea floor.
Prior to the new study, Ganymede's rocky sea bottom was thought to be coated with ice, not liquid -- a problem for the emergence of life. The "club sandwich" findings suggest otherwise: the first layer on top of the rocky core might be salty water.
The research has been published in the journal Planetary and Space Science.
(Posted on 03-05-2014)