Europa Plumes: New Evidence Found for Water on Jupiter Moon

Share
Europa Plumes: New Evidence Found for Water on Jupiter Moon

An artist's conception shows the Galileo spacecraft passing through a plume erupting from the surface of Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter.

"A signature located in the MAG data acquired at Galileo's closest encounter with Europe is totally consistent with the expected disturbances if the spacecraft were to pass through a plume that rises above the nearby surface", states the science team's members in the study's report. Xianzhe Jia, the lead author of the study, told Mashable, "This is potentially great news for future exploration of Europa, because spacecraft may have a chance to directly sample materials that are linked to the subsurface ocean".

The relatively small moon of Jupiter is thought to have a liquid water ocean beneath its icy shell, and it's considered one of the most likely places to host alien life in our solar system.

It is thought to have an iron core, a rocky mantle and a surface ocean of salty water, like Earth.

Near Enceladus' south pole, more than 100 individual geysers continuously blast water ice, organic molecules and other material far out into space - so far that this plume stuff forms Saturn's E ring. They believed these fluctuations might be due to perturbations from a water plume in the plasma surrounding the Moon. The particles that are spread by the plumes will be found in the atmosphere of Europa. In late 2012, Hubble spotted signs of such a feature near the moon's south pole.

In the last several years, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected evidence of plumes on Europa, but from afar.

"These results provide strong independent evidence of the presence of plumes at Europa", they wrote in Nature.

When they examined the information gathered during that flyby 21 years ago, sure enough, high-resolution magnetometer data showed something unusual.

Imaginary illustration of four best known Jupiter moons
Imaginary illustration of four best known Jupiter moons

During its time at Jupiter, Galileo performed 11 flybys of Europa.

The team used numerical models to try to explain exactly what Galileo saw on that fateful day in 1997, revealing that the spacecraft likely got sprayed with water shooting from Europa when it made a flyby of the moon.

The study shows that the spacecraft's instrument detected two critical phenomena in this area: a significant change in Europa's magnetic field and a surge of ionized gas hinting at a large increase in density of the moon's plasma. For example, in the 2014 and 2016 candidate detections, the possible plumes blocked some ultraviolet light emitted by Jupiter. Jia's team pulled that data as well, and it also appeared to back the theory of a plume.

Why did it take more than two decades to tease this result out of the Galileo data set?

"The data were there, but we needed sophisticated modeling to make sense of the observation", Jia said. "And I don't think those were available back 20 years ago". Researchers published their findings in Nature Astronomy. The agency is developing a $2 billion Jupiter-orbiting mission called Europa Clipper, which is scheduled to launch in the early to mid-2020s.

Europa's frozen surface has always been thought to cover a salty ocean about twice the size of our planet's, according to AFP.

"If plumes exist, and we can directly sample what's coming from the interior of Europa, then we can more easily get at whether Europa has the ingredients for life", Pappalardo said.

Since Galileo's end, the Hubble Space Telescope has periodically observed the Jovian system.

Share

Advertisement

Related Posts

Moto C2, Moto C2 Plus rendered images published
As you can see, the image gives us a clear look at the phone from all the angles, including sides, bottom, front, and more. In 2017, Motorola launched the Moto C and Moto C Plus , two very affordable smartphones at a starting price of Rs 4795.

Trump welcomes new embassy in 'beautiful, sacred' Jerusalem
Earlier Monday, several thousand gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah to protest the inauguration of the U.S. embassy. The Trump administration in recent months also has slashed US aid to the Palestinians and programs that support them.

Wenger predicts 'inevitable' European super league
It's been a rip-roaring ride for our free-to-play £10K predictor, with a few near misses and one superb victor in Adrian Bolger. And just as a way of returning the favour, Wenger was full of praise for Huddersfield and what they've achieved this season.

Rouhani reiterates Iran's commitment to nuclear deal
That makes it binding global law and renders the United States government's decision to abandon it unilaterally, a violation. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking in Dublin, declared: "We are stakeholders" and will remain so.

Steam Controller Supports Bluetooth in the Beta Version
Once BLE is enabled, you can switch between the two modes by simply powering up the Controller with specific button combinations. If you've got a Steam Controller and you want to give it a try, you can do so by opting into the latest Steam Client Beta .

NFF Names 30 Eagles For World Cup
Headlining the invitees are captain Mikel Obi, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho , Odion Ighalo, William Ekong and Leon Balogun. Most of the players that executed the qualification campaign to the football showpeice were included in the squad.

Spanish GP: Hamilton wins in Mercedes one-two
Hamilton had a clean start, with Vettel moving from third to second by passing Bottas on the outside of Turn 1. Later reports suggested Vettel may have been forced into the stop due to an issue with his rear tyres.

Vanguard Small Cap Index Fund (VB) Shares Bought by SPC Financial Inc
Current trade price levels places ZTS's stock about -2.23% away from the 52-week high and closed 42.53% away from the 52-week low. This stock increased in value by 3.72% during the last 7-day period, and experienced a gain of 7.91% over the past 30-day period.

Israel, Iran engage in most serious confrontation in Syria
Asked if Israel retaliated for the salvo, he said, "We have retaliated but I have no further details about this". Israeli fighter jets struck a Syrian army position south of Damascus, a pro-Assad commander said.

CBS Sues National Amusements For Voting Control, Stops Viacom Merger
CBS said the committee is seeking to "protect stockholders' interests and unlock significant stockholder value". The agreed upon price was a ratio of 0.6135 CBS shares for every Viacom class B share.

© 2015 ExpressNewsline. All Rights reserved.