Water Vapor Plumes on Europa

  • Released Monday, November 18, 2019
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What makes Jupiter’s moon Europa so alluring is the possibility that it may possess all the ingredients necessary for life. Scientists have evidence that one of these ingredients, liquid water, is present under the icy surface and may sometimes erupt into space in huge geysers. However, no one has been able to confirm the presence of water in these plumes by direct measurement of the water molecule itself. Now, an international research team led out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland has detected the water vapor for the first time above Europa’s surface. The team measured the vapor by peering at Europa through one of the world’s biggest telescopes in Hawaii. Confirming that water vapor is present above Europa helps scientists better understand the inner workings of the moon.


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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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Keck Observatory visuals by Sean Goebel

Release date

This page was originally published on Monday, November 18, 2019.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:45 PM EDT.

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