Water Plumes on Europa

by Rachel Baker on December 17, 2013

NASA’s Hubble space telescope found evidence of Geysers spewing water from the south pole of Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

Analysis of Hubble ultraviolet-light images of the moon from 1999 and 2012 suggest that subsurface water sprays out of the moon’s south pole in two geysers that are 124 miles (200 kilometers) high, according to the study led by planetary scientist Lorenz Roth of the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) in San Antonio, Texas, and released Thursday by the journal Science.

“We can potentially fly through it, analyze the composition, and understand directly what’s the chemistry of the subsurface,” said planetary scientist Robert Pappalardo, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was not involved in the study. “It’s extremely exciting in terms of being able to sample Europa’s material.”

Europa has long been considered a potential home for otherworldly life living in the ocean beneath its icy crust, both in science and in science-fiction novels such as Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two, which was made into a film in 1984.

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