When Sea Salt Goes Interplanetary
The moons of Jupiter are the showiest moons in the solar system. They are the most numerous at 67, the closest to supporting life and, according NASA, home to an important—if slightly overpriced—kitchen staple: sea salt.
Yesterday, NASA announced the sea salt discovery, which could be important in determining how hospitable Europa is to life. No, it doesn’t mean some alien accidentally spilled its groceries on the way home from Jupiter’s expensive, organic supermarket, but it could be an indicator that the underground ocean is interacting with its rocky seafloor—“an important consideration in determining whether the icy moon could support life,” according to the space agency. They did not, however, mention how it tasted. So much for being a culinary breakthrough as well.
“Research like this is important because it focuses on questions we can definitively answer, like whether or not Europa is inhabitable,” said Curt Niebur, Outer Planets Program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Exactly, because any foodie will tell you a planet isn’t inhabitable if all you can find there is crummy table salt from Safeway.