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NASA Finds Evidence of Water Plume on Europa

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-05-14 16:10:23

While water plumes have been imaged on Saturn's icy moon Enceladus by the Cassini spacecraft, evidence for plumes on Jupiter's moon Europa has been scarce. But a new analysis found that a magnetometer aboard the Galileo [] spacecraft recorded signs of a plume in 1997 [], years before the Cassini [] spacecraft encountered plumes:

Scientists have new evidence that there are plumes of water erupting from the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa — plumes that could, maybe, possibly contain signs of life. The evidence comes from data collected by the now-defunct Galileo [] spacecraft. Although the data has been available since it was collected in 1997, it's only now that an analysis confirms the existence of water plumes.

For more than two decades, scientists have been convinced Europa has a liquid water ocean sloshing around beneath its icy outer crust. In the past six years, two teams of researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope reported the possible existence of plumes. But as powerful as Hubble is, seeing something as small as a plume on a moon more than 380-million miles away is difficult. "We're looking for effects that are relatively small, and are pushing the spatial resolution of the telescope," says astrophysicist Susana Deutsua [] of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Congressman John Culberson, known for his support for the Europa Clipper mission [], broke the research embargo in a recent hearing on NASA's budget.

Also at Ars Technica [] and The Verge [].

Evidence of a plume on Europa from Galileo magnetic and plasma wave signatures [] (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41550-018-0450-z) (DX [])

Original Submission