Water plumes on Jupiter’s moon Europa suggest presence of extraterrestrial life beneath icy crust

The Galileo spacecraft of NASA traveled hundred twenty-five miles atop the Jupiter moon, Europa’s surface on 19th December in the year 1997. The Galileo sent back many fascinating information back to the space agency before its mission ceased due to its crash into the biggest planet of our Solar System in the year 2003.

The data sent back by the spacecraft was reviewed lately. The information collected by the spacecraft during its orbit around the Jupiter brought to light that it could have flown through an atmosphere with a plume of moisture gushing out from the cracks formed on Europa’s surface. As claimed by the scientists, this is a typical evidence of water getting generated from a huge water body underneath the moon’s frozen crust.

The researchers initially suspected Europa’s surface to be releasing water by seeing the images received with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope. The powerful telescope captured the images of the substance that could be a plume in the year 2003. However, the picture was so faint that they were regarded as very weak evidence to arrive at any conclusion regarding the existence of the plume. More hints regarding the plume were extended by the Hubble Space Telescope again in the year 2016 with new images. Nevertheless, even those did not prove to be of any good. The researchers required more concrete evidence to support their predictions. The data from the Galileo was then considered and became the focus of the study.

Now that these plumes have been confirmed, they are regarded to be of great help to the researchers for further studies about the subsurface water body of the Jupiter moon. This would let the scientists search molecules, which could be capable of supporting the formation of life there. The scientist may even get some alien microbe traces on the icy crust. The detailed discovery has been published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Prof. Margaret Kivelson of the University of California and leader of the “Galileo magnetometer team,” said that the substance that is oozing out from the surface of Europa is perhaps electrically neutral and is influenced by moisture. Kivelson further told that there exists a lot of highly energetic particles in Europa’s environment which tend to ionize the substance making it electrically neutral.

Kivelson explained that the Plume’s electrically charged particles bring about the magnetic field shifts and shift in the density of electrons within the environment, as estimated by the “plasma wave” equipment. She added that the influence on the “environment from the plume” is actually a two-step phenomenon.

About the author

Shivangi Sharma

Shivangi Sharma is a budding journalist who intends to build a bright career in the media industry. She is a health freak who loves to cover the latest news on health studies, besides science behind them.

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