BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ)– Earth is not the only water world in the solar system. Jupiter’s moon Europa is believed to hold more water, hidden beneath an ice crust that’s miles thick.
That has researchers at the Hubble Space Telescope Institute looking for signs and the Hubble may have spotted just that.
“What we’re looking for is evidence that water is spraying from the ocean out into space. Plumes or jets of water coming from cracks in the ice,” said Dr. William Sparks of the Hubble Space Telescope Institute.
Images show what look like plumes near Europa’s south pole, possibly water geysers shooting 125 miles high. At least researchers think that’s what they’re seeing.
It will take the next generation space telescope launching in 2018 to confirm if it. If the plumes are from water trapped under the ice, they could act as a shortcut.
“Some of that’s going to fall back down onto the surface and it makes getting at the ocean of Europa easier than it would otherwise be. Otherwise we’d have to drill through miles of ice and that’s difficult,” said Sparks.
A NASA mission is in the planning stages to send a spacecraft to Europa, and maybe into one of it’s geyser plumes, to answer what lies beneath.
“It gives us the possibility of exploring another ocean and to search the characteristics of that ocean for signs of life,” said Sparks.