It is thought that Jupiter’s moon Europa is hiding an ocean beneath its surface. New photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope provides further evidence.

This composite image shows suspected plumes of water vapor erupting on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Credit: NASA

The photos show geysers spewing water on the surface of Europa and this fact that astronomers have discovered evidence of plumes of steam erupting from Europa makes it easier to find out if there is life in the warm saltwater ocean hidden beneath the surface.

The moon Europa is one of the largest of Jupiter’s moons, and sixth in the order of the solar system. Europe is one of the most promising candidates to find life in the solar system beyond Earth, according to the researchers.

“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.”

Scientists believe that it has twice as much water as the Earth in all of its oceans combined, hidden several kilometers under a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness.

If the plumes are indeed confirmed, Europa would be the second moon in the solar system known to have water vapor plumes, as NASA’s Cassini orbiter detected jets of water vapor and dust spewing off the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus in 2005.


Hubble: Possible Water Plumes on Jupiter’s Moon Europa