The dark material that covers some geological features of Jupiter’s moon Europa, according to NASA laboratory experimentation, is most likely sea salt coming from a subsurface ocean, which is discolored by exposure to radiation.
The manifestation of sea salt on Europa’s exterior puts forward that the ocean is interrelated with its rocky sea bed, a vital consideration to determine the possibility of the icy moon supporting life.
To decipher the mystery of the dark material, NASA produced a simulated patch of Europa’s exterior in its lab, calling it “Europa in a Can”.
They then gave it a barraged of salt through an electron beam to mimic the radiation on the surface of Europa.
After a number of hours of exposing to this harsh setting, which resembles as long as a century on Europa, the salt models, which were just white initially like table salt, turned into a yellowish-brown in color similar to the features seen on the icy moon, the NASA space agency explained.
The color of these samples, as what the researchers found, as measured in their spectra, showed a resemblance to the color in the fractures on Europa that were taken by NASA Galileo mission.