Many are accustomed to believe that the Earth isthe only planet in the solar system with enormous water reserves. However, in comparison with some other places in the Solar System, our home world is a real desert, both in terms of the total volume of water and the amount of fluid on Earth relative to the size of the planet.
Take at least the icy moon of Jupiter Europe,which is smaller than our moon. More recently, scientists have analyzed the old 20-year data from one of the Voyager space probes and found even more evidence that Europe’s water reserves are twice as high as those on our home planet. There are serious suspicions that even tiny Pluto has a subsurface ocean, comparable in volume to our earth.
Steve Vance, planetary scientist from the Jet LabFor many years, NASA has been researching worlds that can hide water beneath their surface. He derived the averaged values of the thickness of the ice crusts of the surface of the worlds of the solar system and the depth of their oceans, and also calculated how much water could be available on these objects.
The infographic below shows the data obtained by Vance, as well as information from other sources, showing the likely volume of liquid water from nine known “water worlds”, including our Earth.
The amount of water on the chart is reflected in the zetaliters, a unit equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 liters, or 1 billion cubic kilometers.
According to the data of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Earth possesses approximately only 1.3335 nettalitres.
Based on the amount of water that is availablethe worlds of the Solar System (from smaller to larger), the list looks like this: Enceladus (satellite of Saturn), Triton (satellite of Neptune), Dion (satellite of Saturn), Pluto (dwarf planet), Earth, Europe (satellite of Jupiter), Callisto ( satellite of Jupiter), Titan (satellite of Saturn) and Ganymede (satellite of Jupiter).
Ganymede is the largest gas satellitegiant of Jupiter and the most "water" world of the Solar System for another reason: 69 percent of the total satellite volume can be occupied by liquid water, which is significantly more than any other space body from the list above.
According to scientists, Mimas, the satellite of Saturn, andCeres - the largest asteroid in the solar system, can also have oceans from water. However, researchers are not sure how large these oceans can be. In order to confirm or refute this opinion, it will take more than one space mission.
At the moment, the NASA Aerospace Agencyplans a Europa Clipper mission to Europe. Within its framework, scientists want to make a very accurate map of the icy satellite. Researchers expect the mission to start somewhere between 2022 and 2025.
Scientists believe that the probe will be able to carry out more accurate calculations of the size of the ocean of Europe, as well as "taste and smell" particles of water geysers escaping from the surface of the satellite.
European Space Agency plansa similar mission called Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer. Its launch should take place in 2022. To reach Jupiter, the spacecraft will have to be in the 2030th.
As part of this mission, two flights around Europe are planned. Then the spacecraft for 8 months will take an orbit around Ganymede, collecting scientific data and sending them to Earth.
Who knows, perhaps one of these probes will find the first irrefutable proof of the existence of life hundreds of millions of kilometers from Earth.