Enlarge / This enhanced color image shows the region surrounding the young impact crater Pwyll, a 26km diameter impact crater thought to be one of the youngest features on the surface of Europa. (credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
Nearly 15 years have passed since NASA sent its Galileo spacecraft flying into Jupiter’s outer atmosphere to die—eliminating the possibility of contaminating nearby Jovian moons with any traces of Earth bacteria. However, a new study seeking evidence of water plumes on the surface of Jupiter’s Moon Europa demonstrates that, even now, Galileo is providing valuable information.
Since Galileo’s end, the Hubble Space Telescope has periodically observed the Jovian system. Sometimes, when the telescope has looked, it has observed water vapor emissions coming from the surface of Europa. This indicates the existence of periodic jets of water emanating from the moon’s interior.
The prospect of the water gushing from the moon’s interior has tantalized scientists, as that warm, vast interior ocean is thought to be one of the best places in the Solar System beyond Earth—if not the best—to look for extant life. Since the ice sheet covering Europa is thought to be at least several kilometers thick, being able to sample the ocean from space or the moon’s surface would greatly aid this search.
Source: FS – All – Science – News
Yes, Europa really is sending plumes of water into space