The proofs of the existence of water plumes on Europa, which are emerging from the surface of the moon, have been gathering for a number of years.
In 2012, NASA experts have obtained ultraviolet images taken with the Hubble space telescope, which showed plumes of water from the surface of Europa. The probe reportedly orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003 and was able to detect potential plumes coming from the planet's icy moon Europa during a close flyby in 1997. However, the new analysis published in the journal Nature Astronomy, used data collected much closer to the source and is considered strong, corroborating support for plumes.
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Xianzhe Jia, an associate professor at the University of MI who led the team that re-assessed the Galileo data, said the location, duration and variations seen in the magnetometer and plasma wave data are consistent with the presumed plume seen by Hubble. 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". This fortuitous happenstance is the best evidence of plumes to date, the study said.
Huge fissures in the ice spew its ocean water out into space, kept warm deep under the ice by tidal forces generated by the planet and its host, Jupiter.
Prof. Margaret Kivelson of the University of California and leader of the "Galileo magnetometer team", said that the substance that is oozing out from the surface of Europa is perhaps electrically neutral and is influenced by moisture.
Europa's frozen surface has always been thought to cover a salty ocean about twice the size of our planet's, according to AFP. Scientists think this, and the heat provided by the constant gravitational kneading of Europa's core by Jupiter and its other moons, makes Europa a prime candidate for life, albeit on a microbial scale. But the data also suggest the craft flew through a dense region of particles, something McGrath thought might come from Galileo flying through a watery plume.
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When the plume's particles become electrically conductive, they alter the surrounding magnetic fields. The findings are good news for the Europa Clipper mission, which may launch as early as June 2022, NASA said.
If we're going to find extraterrestrial life inside of our own Solar System there's only a handful of places where scientists believe we might find it.
So, they went through the data collected more than 20 years ago and got what they needed - a weird but quick spike in the magnetic field and a spike in the energy of particles in gases that had never been explained, Gizmodo reported. That's in contrast to Enceladus, where a spacecraft was still in the neighborhood and able to gather more information when the moon's plumes were first detected. Or, maybe when the powerful James Webb Space Telescope finally launches (it has been pushed back several times), it will get a clearer picture of what is happening on the alien moon. There it will perform 45 flybys past Europa, getting as close as 16 miles above the moon's surface. It might mean that a planned space mission to Europa - called the Europa Clipper - could be programmed to fly through the plumes in order to sample Europa's liquid ocean, which is buried below this moon's thick ice crust.
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