Written by News 1st
13 Dec, 2013 | 9:26 am
Water may be spouting from Jupiter’s icy moon Europa – considered one of the best places to find alien life in the Solar System.
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 findings were reported at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California.
The team said exploration for Europa should now be made a priority. The US Space Agency has made some preliminary plans for a mission to the moon – the Europa Clipper, which could fly past the plumes.
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