LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted possible water plumes spewing from one of Jupiter’s icy moons.
NASA said Monday the workhorse telescope detected the activity in the south pole of Europa where an ocean is thought to exist beneath its icy crust.
If the finding is confirmed, Europa would be the second moon in the solar system where water plumes have been detected. The Cassini spacecraft previously spied jets erupting from the surface of the Saturn moon Enceladus.
Scientists say the possible presence of plumes on Europa is exciting because it means any mission there may not have to drill through thick ice to study the underground ocean.
In 2012, Hubble found hints of water vapor venting from Europa’s south pole, but didn’t see anything in follow-up observations.
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