Water Vapor Detected In Europa's Atmosphere

Water Vapor Detected In Europa's Atmosphere

Hubble finds evidence of persistent water vapor in one hemisphere of Europa NASA's Hubble Space Telescope observations of Jupiter's icy moon Europa have revealed the presence of persistent water vapor—but, mysteriously, only in one hemisphere. Europa harbors a vast ocean underneath its icy surface, which might offer conditions hospitable for life. This result advances astronomers' understanding of the atmospheric structure of icy moons, and helps lay the groundwork for planned science missions to the Jovian system to, in part, explore whether an environment half-a-billion miles from the Sun could support life. Previous observations of water vapor on Europa have been associated with plumes erupting through the ice, as photographed by Hubble in 2013. They are analogous to geysers on Earth, but extend more than 60 miles high. They produce transient …
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