NASA spots possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter's Moon Europa
Posted on: 28 Sep 2016 18:15:08
28 September 2016 Current Affairs: The latest finding has given scientists fresh hope that a robotic spacecraft could one day fly past these potential plumes and learn about their contents without having to drill miles deep into the moon's icy shell.
Using ultraviolet images taken by Hubble, a space telescope that was launched in 1990, the potential plumes were seen around the southern edge of Europa and appear as dark fingers or patches of possible absorption.
They were spotted over the course of 15 months in 2014 when scientists observed Europa passing in front of Jupiter.
This was observed by a team of astronomers led by William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore. They observed these finger-like projections while viewing Europa's limb as the moon passed in front of Jupiter.
If confirmed, Europa would be the second moon in the solar system known to have water vapor plumes. In 2005, NASA's Cassini orbiter detected jets of water vapor and dust spewing off the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus.
Plumes on Europa : 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 that contains twice water than Earth’s oceans, which 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.
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