Water Eruptions on Europa

Credit: NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center
Credit: NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center

A second confirmation of massive plumes of water being sprayed possibly more than 100 miles from the moon’s surface has all but confirmed that a probe mission to the celestial body should be launched.

Europa is known to have an ocean twice the size of earth’s regarding the amount of water contained therein but said a sheet of ice covers the sea.

Because this ice is a barrier that could be kilometers thick, obtaining a sample of this liquid would mean drilling into and through this barrier.

However, with the discovery of these massive plumes of water being forced from the subterranean sea, a probe could make several passes and potentially gather samples before Europa’s gravity pulled the moisture back down onto the moon’s surface.

This discovery could lead to several revelations about the moon’s current physicality and how it came to be in the state that it is in a much less theoretical way.

For example, if these plumes of water have been happening for millions of years, we would know exactly how Europa’s ice layer was formed that now cover its massive ocean.

These eruptions would give us accurate data on the composition of this ice-locked ocean, including whether or not it contains signs of life (which of course, everyone wants to hope for).

Another thing this discovery proves is that our solar system, at least within our Milky Way galaxy, is even more unique than we have ever hoped to believe! The existence of liquid water in our universe is thought to be very rare within the billions of star system around us, a fact that is exciting for several reasons.

One of the most compelling reasons (potentially) is that many astronomers believe that if intelligent extra-solar or extra-galactic life exists and is capable of interstellar travel, a planet (or the moon in Europa’s case) would be a prime reason for them to come to our solar system.

The plumes of water rising out of and above Europa’s could be attractive to more than just us!

Article contributed by: Bartlett Bouncers