Scientists have uncovered an incredible secret satellites of Jupiter

The moon is on the list for possible space exploration. Pic NASA

Jupiter's moon Europa is one of the most tantalizing. Europa, the ice-covered Jovian moon where the existence of alien life hasn't been ruled out.

Jupiter's moon Europa has always been a major target for exploration because it harbors a salty water ocean beneath its icy crust. The researchers go on to explain that the same conditions exist on the surface of Europa, and that the icy blades "could pose a hazard to a future lander on Europa".

Sublimation turns ice into water vapour without the ice melting into liquid first, and penitentes are then left following the sublimation process.

Known as "penitentes", the formations are sharp-edged blades and spikes that point towards the mid-day sun.

Cold, dry, and still air.

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Research published this past July suggests scientists on the hunt for life will have a better chance of finding potential biosignatures in Europa's younger ice and in lower-radiation locations.

Scientists from the University of Cardiff say shards of ice up to 15m (50ft) high could be dotted all over the moon's surface. In 2020, a mission is also being planned for Europa which would take high resolution images of the moon's icy surface and investigate its composition and structure of its interior. Actually traveling to Europa is still little more than a dream, but when we eventually make it happen we may need to grapple with something unexpected: a surface covered in brutal blades of ice. "We find that surface sublimation rates exceed those of erosion by space weathering processes in Europa's equatorial belt (latitudes below 23°), and that conditions would favor penitente growth".

Now, all we can await is the 2-billion Europa Clipper mission, that is set to launch in the 2020s, which will see whether the icy moon can host life (for real). This bolsters the idea that there's something waiting on Europa's surface to tear incoming spacecraft to shreds.

Excitingly, the Europa Clipper mission may be a forerunner to a landing mission on the Jovian moon, in which a probe would drill through the icy surface and plunge into the dark ocean beneath.

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