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Friday, December 13, 2013

Plume of water ejected from Europa

Sou | 3:28 AM Feel free to comment!

Another welcome diversion from the HW usual (which has been getting dreadfully dull of late).

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected water being ejected from Europa.  NASA posted a terrific artist's impression:

This is an artist's concept of a plume of water vapor thought to be ejected off the frigid, icy surface of the Jovian moon Europa, located about 500 million miles (800 million kilometers) from the sun. Spectroscopic measurements from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope led scientists to calculate that the plume rises to an altitude of 125 miles (201 kilometers) and then it probably rains frost back onto the moon's surface. Previous findings already pointed to a subsurface ocean under Europa's icy crust.
Image credit: NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI

Here's the picture showing where it was detected - click to enlarge it:


From NASA:
This graphic shows the location of water vapor detected over Europa's south pole in observations taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in December 2012. This is the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off Europa's surface. 
Hubble didn't photograph plumes, but spectroscopically detected auroral emissions from oxygen and hydrogen. The aurora is powered by Jupiter's magnetic field. This is only the second moon in the solar system found ejecting water vapor from the frigid surface. The image of Europa is derived from a global surface map generated from combined observations taken by NASA's Voyager and Galileo space probes.
Image credit: NASA/ESA/L. Roth/SWRI/University of Cologne
You can read more about it here.

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