Hubble Spots Possible Venting Activity on Europa

Stsci_2017-17_1024

stsci_2017-17 April 13th, 2017

Credit: Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, W. Sparks (STScI), and the USGS Astrogeology Science Center; Science Credit: NASA, ESA, and W. Sparks (STScI)

Best Evidence Yet for Reoccurring Water Vapor Plumes Erupting from Jupiters Moon

When Galileo discovered Jupiter's moon Europa in 1610, along with three other satellites whirling around the giant planet, he could have barely imagined it was such a world of wonder.

This revelation didn't happen until 1979, when NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 flew by Jupiter and found evidence that Europa's interior, encapsulated under a crust of ice, has been kept warm over billions of years. The warmer temperature is due to gravitational tidal forces that flex the moon's interior like squeezing a rubber ball keeping it warm. At the time, one mission scientist even speculated that the Voyagers might catch a snapshot of geysers on Europa.

Such activity turned out to be so elusive that astronomers had to wait over three decades for the peering eye of Hubble to monitor the moon for signs of venting activity. A newly discovered plume seen towering 62 miles above the surface in 2016 is at precisely the same location as a similar plume seen on the moon two years earlier by Hubble. These observations bolster evidence that the plumes are a real phenomenon, flaring up intermittently in the same region on the satellite.

The location of the plumes corresponds to the position of an unusually warm spot on the moon's icy crust, as measured in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Researchers speculate that this might be circumstantial evidence for material venting from the moon's subsurface. The material could be associated with the global ocean that is believed to be present beneath the frozen crust. The plumes offer an opportunity to sample what might be in the ocean, in the search for life on that distant moon.

Provider: Hubble Space Telescope | STScI

Image Source: http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-17

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

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Image Details

Image Type
Object Name
Europa
Subject - Solar System
Planet > Satellite > Feature > Atmosphere

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Hubble (STIS) -
Stsci_2017-17_1280
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ID
2017-17
Subject Category
A.1.4.1.2  
Subject Name
Europa
Credits
Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, W. Sparks (STScI), and the USGS Astrogeology Science Center; Science Credit: NASA, ESA, and W. Sparks (STScI)
Release Date
2017-04-13
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-17
Type
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Hubble
Instrument
STIS
Color Assignment
Blue
Band
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
Equinox
Reference Value
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
Quality
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
http://hubblesite.org
Name
Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach
Email
outreach@stsci.edu
Telephone
410-338-4444
Address
3700 San Martin Drive
City
Baltimore
State/Province
MD
Postal Code
21218
Country
USA
Rights
http://hubblesite.org/copyright/
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-H-p1717a-f-1235x618.tif
Metadata Date
2018-04-11T16:53:58-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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