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)