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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Hubble Sees Water Plumes on Europa

Hubble Sees Water Plumes on Europa

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, September 26, 2016/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, environment, adventure

                             Water Plumes Erupting From The Lower Edge of Europa (credit: NASA)

The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged what appears to be water vapor plumes erupting on Jupiter's moon Europa. Using the telescope's ultraviolet spectograph, geyser-like features rising nearly 125 miles above Europa’s ice-covered surface were observed. The water is believed to originate from a global, subsurface ocean on Europa.

In 10 separate observations made over 15 months of Europa's limb silhouetted against Jupiter, a NASA research team observed what could be water plumes erupting 3 times. The new observations increase the possibility that a space probe could fly through the plume, take water samples, and determine the chemistry and if biological molecules or microbes were present. In commenting on the new discovery NASA investigators said:

“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system. These plumes, if they do exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.”

The Goddard Space Flight Center produced a video with animation to illustrate how the geyser plumes might appear to a space probe approaching Europa.

Bring on the next orbiting space probe and send it ASAP to Europa.

WHB

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