NASA VIDEO of Hubble’s Discovery of 125-Mile-High Water Geysers on Jupiter’s Europa –“A Potential Abode of Alien Life”

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On September 26th, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope imaged water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high-altitude water vapor plumes. The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.

“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.”

The plumes are estimated to rise about 125 miles (200 kilometers) before, presumably, raining material back down onto Europa’s surface. Europa has a huge global ocean containing twice as much water as Earth’s oceans, but it is protected by a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness. The plumes provide a tantalizing opportunity to gather samples originating from under the surface without having to land or drill through the ice.

                                

 

The team, led by William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, observed these finger-like projections while viewing Europa’s limb as the moon passed in front of Jupiter.

The existence of the plumes “is the kind of thing that could have a profound impact on how we explore Europa,” Curt Niebur, outer planets program scientist at NASA headquarters, said during a NASA planetary sciences subcommittee meeting. “With an ocean that is tens of kilometers below the ice, most likely, if you can have a plume that’s possibly bringing material from that ocean up to orbit, well, that’s going to affect how you explore,” Niebur added.

In 2013, huge active plumes containing water vapor being released from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa were discovered. This sensational find was made using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Europa has been a focus of extraterrestrial research for some time now, as there were clear indications that it harbors a liquid ocean beneath its icy crust. Now, it appears, the geysers have vanished.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA

 

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