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Europa could be home to 200km high geysers


Posted on Friday, 13 December, 2013 | Comment icon 16 comments

Could there be life on Europa ? Image Credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX
Geysers on Jupiter's icy moon Europa may reach heights 20 times greater than that of Mount Everest.
The possibility was identified by researchers who had been examining ultraviolet images of Europa taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in an attempt to seek out the elements that make up water - oxygen and hydrogen. What they found was a series of spikes in the levels of these elements across two specific regions of Europa's southern hemisphere.

Computer models seemed to suggest that the spikes could be caused by huge plumes of water vapor gushing up from the liquid ocean deep below Europa's thick icy crust. The anomalies seemed to occur at the point furthest from Jupiter suggesting that they may be a direct result of the planet's gravity which can exert forces up to 1,000 times greater than those our moon exerts on the Earth.

If the spikes do turn out to be geysers then not only would they be enormous but they could also provide a unique opportunity for a future spacecraft to sample the water that exists within Europa's ocean without having to rely on melting its way down through the ice to access the ocean directly.

Source: Space.com | Comments (16)

Tags: Europa, Jupiter

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Realm on 14 December, 2013, 12:23
Imagine if it were possible to stand on Europa and watch a geyser of that magnitude. Probably awesome and terrifying at the same time.
Comment icon #8 Posted by ninjadude on 14 December, 2013, 21:43
I'm no expert on fishing, but wouldn't it make sense to find out if there are actually fish there first? they don't go for the fish, they go for the experience
Comment icon #9 Posted by qxcontinuum on 16 December, 2013, 5:56
Wondering what type of creatures are lurking in those icy waters?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Frank Merton on 16 December, 2013, 6:05
I'm no expert on fishing, but wouldn't it make sense to find out if there are actually fish there first? If you want to sit in the vacuum of space at an average temperature of -160oC (-260oF) whilst being rapidly irradiated by Jupiter's Van Allen Belts don't let me stop you, but it seems rather a pointless worm drowning exercise if all that is present is microbial life or, worse still, no life is present at all. Extreme ice fishing.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Sundew on 16 December, 2013, 12:27
I'm no expert on fishing, but wouldn't it make sense to find out if there are actually fish there first? If you want to sit in the vacuum of space at an average temperature of -160oC (-260oF) whilst being rapidly irradiated by Jupiter's Van Allen Belts don't let me stop you, but it seems rather a pointless worm drowning exercise if all that is present is microbial life or, worse still, no life is present at all. Well, if you're going to go to all that trouble, you might as well bring bait, lol.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Xynoplas on 16 December, 2013, 19:55
It may be possible that the NASA guys can analyze the light bouncing off that bit of water and find out more about it: isotopes of water and other chemicals that might suggest potential nutrients. At least, any new surface probe won't need to burrow through miles of ice. Yay!
Comment icon #13 Posted by Sundew on 17 December, 2013, 15:41
It may be possible that the NASA guys can analyze the light bouncing off that bit of water and find out more about it: isotopes of water and other chemicals that might suggest potential nutrients. At least, any new surface probe won't need to burrow through miles of ice. Yay! Aw, I want video beneath the ice!
Comment icon #14 Posted by Xynoplas on 17 December, 2013, 18:14
Well, if you're going to go to all that trouble, you might as well bring bait, lol. That's what the no-return Mars colony is for!
Comment icon #15 Posted by Xynoplas on 17 December, 2013, 18:20
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-362 Clay-Like Minerals Found on Icy Crust of Europa They are supposing that the "clay" (phyllosilicate) was delivered via an asteroid or comet. But isn't clay something that is created from an alluvial deposit?
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 18 December, 2013, 1:25
http://www.jpl.nasa....elease=2013-362 Clay-Like Minerals Found on Icy Crust of Europa They are supposing that the "clay" (phyllosilicate) was delivered via an asteroid or comet. But isn't clay something that is created from an alluvial deposit? There is already a separate thread on this: HERE


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