New Delhi: On September 21st, 2016, NASA announced a teleconference on Monday, to reveal 'surprising activities' that were discovered taking place on Jupiter's moon Europa.
This announcement created quite a frenzy among space enthusaists on various social media platforms, giving rise to rumours hinting at alien exsistence.
NASA, however, was quick to quell those rumours, saying that the discovery was not aliens. Now, the US space agency has finally revealed Hubble's findings to the world.
As per the scientists, Hubble has imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the Europa's surface. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.
Previous scientific findings on Europa had already pointed to the existence of an ocean located under its icy crust, but it was believed that in the future, teams would have to drill through the thick layer of ice before any signs of the presence of life could be detected.
But, this new finding has brought possibilities of future missions to Europa, wherein scientists may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.
“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface,” NASA reported.
NASA further reported that, 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 containing twice as much water as Earth’s oceans, but it 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.
The team, led by William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore observed these finger-like projections while viewing Europa's limb as the moon passed in front of Jupiter.
Check out the video of the possible water plumes below!
(Video courtesy: NASA Goddard)