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Water vapour found venting from Jupiter`s moon Europa

By Ritu Singh | Last Updated: Friday, December 13, 2013 - 11:24

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: The Hubble Space Telescope has detected the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting from the icy surface of one of Jupiter`s moons Europa.

The Europa plumes were discovered by Hubble observations in December 2012.Hubble didn`t photograph the geysers but detected evidence of hydrogen and oxygen, the components of water.

After this finding, Europa would be the second moon in the solar system to have water vapor plumes.Scientists had already determined that an ocean lies beneath Europa`s frozen crust.

"If those plumes are connected with the subsurface ocean we are confident water exists under Europa`s crust, then this means that future investigations can directly investigate the chemical makeup of Europa`s potentially habitable environment without drilling through layers of ice," said lead author Lorenz Roth of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "And that is tremendously exciting."

Long cracks on Europa`s surface might be venting the water vapor, Roth added.

These could be stealth plumes, because they might be tenuous and difficult to observe in the visible light," he said.

After the new analysis of data from the Galileo mission which reveals clay-type minerals on Europa`s surface it`s the second major Europa finding in two days.

First Published: Friday, December 13, 2013 - 11:17

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