Life on Jupiter's moon? Europa's plumes suggest so

Life on Jupiter's moon? Europa's plumes suggest so

A year or two ago, NASA astronomers were going over the data from the Hubble Space Telescope when they spotted what appeared to be plumes of water shooting from the moon's surface, according to a report from NASA. So, many astrobiologists regard Europa as one of the solar system's best bets to host alien life, along with the icy Saturn moon Enceladus, which also features a subsurface ocean.

"It's worth noting that the scientific journal Nature Astronomy just reported that the Galileo mission, back in 1997, flew through a water plume on Europa a thousand kilometers thick", Culberson explained while lawmakers doled out funding to NASA on May 9.

Besides, the recent research shows that Europa has never seized to be active, geologically speaking, at least.

Scientists have presented further evidence for water plumes on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, raising hopes signs of life around the second planet from Earth. When Jia and his team sifted through the observations of plasma and magnetic wave fluctuations Galileo picked up on Europa, Jia and his team were able to confirm that, yes, the geysers did, in fact, exist. The findings are good news for the Europa Clipper mission, which may launch as early as June 2022, Nasa said.

Examining the data of previous missions of Hubble and Galileo to the system of Jupiter, scientists have discovered evidence that the moon of Jupiter Europe, the successive explosions, which indicate the existence of an ocean under the ice. The powerful telescope captured the images of the substance that could be a plume in the year 2003.

What won't be discussed, nearly assuredly, is any discovery of aliens or life forms in Europa's oceans.

That's still not exactly easy, but it is less complicated than asking a probe to fly all the way to Europa, safely land, burrow through a miles-thick crust of rock-hard ice, and then get to work being an extraterrestrial ocean explorer. So a team of United States astronomers went back and took a second look at data collected by the Galileo spacecraft during its eight-year stay in the Jovian system.

Galileo found Europa's magnetic field intensified and shifted orientation just as the spacecraft made its closest approach to the moon.


Xianzhe Jia, an associate professor at the University of MI who led the team that re-assessed the Galileo data, said the location, duration and variations seen in the magnetometer and plasma wave data are consistent with the presumed plume seen by Hubble. From its orbit of Jupiter, Europa Clipper will sail close by the moon in rapid, low-altitude flybys.

NASA has found some of the most solid evidence yet that Jupiter's moon Europa releases water from its surface into space.

"This wasn't planned out", study author Xianzhe Jia from the University of MI explains to Gizmodo. Plumes from the surface means that the ice is warm.

It's based on research by the University of MI that re-examined data when the Galileo space craft flew over Europa in 1997. The data provide independent evidence that the moon's subsurface liquid water reservoir may be venting plumes of water vapor above its icy shell.

Europa has "a lot of the ingredients necessary for life" - water, energy and carbon material, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory planetary scientist Elizabeth Turtle told Reuters.

The discovery was made after a team of researchers analyzed the data gathered by NASA's Galileo Jupiter probe.

NASA officials have also said they'd like Clipper to dive through Europa's putative plumes, if possible, to potentially grab fresh samples of the moon's ocean (if plume material is indeed coming directly from that ocean). "That's the big picture".

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