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Jupiter's Icy Moon Europa 'Spouts Water'

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posted on Dec, 12 2013 @ 04:46 PM
Findings reported at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting suggest that Jupiter's Icy Moon Europa Spouts Water when it is at its farthest from the planet , this gives scientists hope of open cracks on the surface that may be a way in to Europa on future missions .

This means that tidal acceleration could be driving water spouting - by opening cracks in the surface ice, the researchers propose. The team is not yet sure whether these fissures go all the way down to the liquid water beneath the moon's icy crust, or whether some other mechanism is bringing the vapour to the surface.

The researchers also want to investigate whether the plumes are similar to those seen on Saturn's moon Enceladus, where high-pressure vapour emissions escape from very narrow cracks on the body's surface. "We have a lot of questions about how this works," said Dr Retherford. "How thick is the ice crust? Are there lakes and ponds embedded within the layers of the ice? Do these cracks go down really deep, do they really touch the liquid water down below?

Water spouts taller than Mt Everest appear to burst out of Europa when it is farthest from Jupiter

Images by the Hubble Space Telescope show surpluses of hydrogen and oxygen in the moon's southern hemisphere, say astronomers writing in Science journal. If confirmed as water vapour plumes, it raises hopes that Europa's underground ocean can be accessed from its surface.

Future missions could probe these seas for signs of life. Nasa's planetary science chief Dr James Green told BBC News: "The presence of the water has led scientists to speculate that the Europa we know today harbours life. "The plumes are incredibly exciting if they are there - they are bringing up material from the ocean. Perhaps there are organic molecules lying there on the surface of Europa."

The next realistic opportunity to study the jets up close is therefore the European Space Agency's Juice mission.

Due to launch to the Jovian system in 2022, the satellite will make two close flybys of the ice-encrusted moon in the 2030s. With luck, its instrumentation will get close enough to directly sample the plumes.
Signatures of water (blue) detected by Hubble are overlayed on an image of Europa

edit on 12-12-2013 by gortex because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 12 2013 @ 04:56 PM
reply to post by gortex

We'll if there is water squirting out of its crust, then at least we know there is liquid water somewhere inside the planet.
Hopefully in the next few decades this planet will begin to show more signs that it is very much alive.

posted on Dec, 12 2013 @ 05:14 PM
reply to post by TheLotLizard

There is a layer of ocean beneath the surface ice crust. If we can strip off icy crust, Europa would look like water world.
What is interesting considering plumes of water, I have read somewhere that Cassini mission is about to flew through those plumes in order to try to scoop water for analysis. Who knows what they will find. Life?

eta: correction about Cassini: in 2015 it will scoop water from Enceladus, NOT Europa (still interesting)
edit on 12-12-2013 by zilebeliveunknown because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 12 2013 @ 05:14 PM
So this is where the Kraken's come from...

I have always been interested in this moon, I even wrote a short story about what people might find under miles of its ice. Good stuff!

posted on Dec, 12 2013 @ 07:45 PM
How do they in fact know it is really water and not something else?

posted on Dec, 12 2013 @ 07:45 PM
reply to post by zilebeliveunknown

I have understood that the underwater ocean is only a theory. But this would be a clue to support that hypothesis.

But correct me if I'm wrong. I am a supporter of the water world also.

edit on 12-12-2013 by TheLotLizard because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 12 2013 @ 11:23 PM
So Europa somehow warming up ,,,causing the ice to melt ....
We better get there soon & Institute a "carbon tax" before Europa turns into a ball of fire
edit on 12-12-2013 by Blowback because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 13 2013 @ 02:58 AM
reply to post by scotsdavy1


edit on 13/12/13 by Astyanax because: because one shouldn't be rude even to the deserving.

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