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Jupiter’s Moon Europa May Have Water Geysers Taller Than Everest

Jupiter’s Moon Europa May Have Water Geysers Taller Than Everest

Scientists have discovered that the moon Europa the sixth closest moon to Jupiter has been spewing plumes of water more than 20 times taller than Mt. Everest.  The Hubble Space Telescope has taken images of this activity in recent years.  If this activity can be confirmed this might confirm the existence of life in the underground oceans on the moon Europa.

Investigators believe that Europa may possess giant oceans up to about 100 miles deep under an icy crust that is 10 to 15 miles thick.  If there is water, there is life here on the Earth so they think that it might possess life on Jupiter’s moon Europa.  Researchers have long believed that Europa might be able to support microbial life.  They have discovered spikes of hydrogen and oxygen levels in two regions in the southern hemisphere of Europa.  When these surges appear, they only last about seven hours at a time when the moon is at its farthest point from Jupiter.  If Europa is at its closest point to Jupiter they don’t appear to happen.  Jupiter’s gravitational pull that Europa feels may be causing tidal forces that are about 1000 times stronger than the Earth feels from our moon. Researchers are not sure why the gravitational pull happens when Europa is farthest from Jupiter when the pull is at its weakest. When the plumes happen, it might be that the moon’s cracks are open, and the water vapor rushes out.  It seems to be similar to the geysers on the moon Enceladus – Saturn’s moon – which also seem to erupt when the moon is at it farthest point away from the planet.

Since Europa is half the distance away from Jupiter than Enceladus is from Saturn, we may be able to get higher resolution pictures than what we can from Saturn’s moon.  In the future we may be able to confirm this discovery and then help define the size, density, composition, and the timing of Europa’s plumes.  We may also be able to analyze the composition of the moons interior without actually landing on and drilling into the ground of Europa.