Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gone Fishing on Ganymede

In the past, fishing was a skill used to provide food for the table. Whether or not ancient man enjoyed the process, they needed to be good at it – or at hunting – in order to thrive. Today, fishing on a personal level has become a pleasurable activity for some. They don’t need to do it to put fish on the dinner table, but they find the experience rewarding. Some go so far as to try for ‘a big fish’ out in the middle of the ocean.

What do you suppose will happen when humans find their way to other planets?

Water has been found on our moon, Mars, Ceres, even Pluto, as well as various other places. On Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter, salty water is hidden under a thick (about 95 miles) crust of ice. There is probably more water on Ganymede than all of the Earth’s surface water combined. Scientists believe that ocean is 60 miles deep, about 10 times the deepest part of any Earth ocean.

I can envision future tours being organized to take die-hard fishers to Ganymede to drill a big hole in the exterior ice to facilitate fishing. I doubt if they’ll dangle a 100-mile-long fishing line into that hole – think how long it would take to reel it back in! So maybe their spacesuit for leaving the space boat would also be a diving suit, and they would ‘hunt’ for ‘fish’ with a spear gun.

Hmm. There’s problems with that vision, according to some of what I read. The Ganymede’s ocean is not only covered with ice, it also rests on ice, pressurized into a crystalized form. On other moons, the ocean bed is rock, which apparently keeps the water warmer, and provides various minerals as it is eroded by the salty ocean. The theory is that those warmer, rock-bedded oceans are far more likely to produce some kind of ‘life.’

Still, we keep getting surprised, the more we look around our neighborhood, don’t we? And science fiction writers like to take the science we know now and extrapolate possibilities we don’t – yet - have any proof for.

So, how about this? There’s a lot of different salts, besides table salt, which could be helping Ganymede’s ocean remain liquid. Nobody definitively stated the only salt in Ganymede’s ocean was NaCl (table salt), so these other salts could provide minerals for building ‘life’. I’m not sure the temperature of the ocean is that big a deal, but the salty ocean of Ganymede reacts to the magnetic field of Jupiter, and I’m thinking that reaction might produce some heat, although probably not much.

Sounds good to me. So good, I anticipate someone will make some money someday, selling signs that say, “Gone Fishing on Ganymede.”

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