Monday, September 26, 2016

Jupiter's moon Europa may expel water plumes

Jupiter's moon Europa may expel water plumes from under icy shell, Nasa says

Evidence shows that moon’s liquid water bursts out into space, meaning that scientists can test samples for signs of life without drilling through miles of ice.

Scientists have found tantalizing evidence of a liquid water ocean swirling under the icy shell of Jupiter’s moon Europa, Nasaannounced on Monday, with new evidence of water plumes bursting out into space.

With Jupiter as a bright light behind the moon, the scientists observed Europa in silhouette, and with ultraviolet light saw what appeared to be evidence of the plumes.

“If plumes exist, this is an exciting find,” lead researcher William Sparks said. “It means we may be able to explore that ocean, that ocean of Europa, and for organic chemicals,” he added. “It would allow us to search for signs of life without having to drill through miles of ice.”

The apparent plumes seem to be mostly around the south pole, Sparks said, although one appears farther north and may be a likelier candidate for a mission. “We presume it to be water vapor or ice particles because that’s what Europa’s made of, and those molecules do appear at the wavelengths we observed.”

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