Archive for January 22, 2019

Europa Leaked Water Into Space, and NASA Accidentally Flew Through It

Europa, one of Jupiter’s many moons, is hiding a secret beneath its icy crust, but humanity is closer than ever to cracking it.

This NASA illustration shows the Galileo spacecraft after it cruised through a plume bursting from Europa (foreground). Jupiter’s in the background. When water vapor is vented into space, the resulting plume becomes ionized. As the plume interacts with the magnetic field, it causes a characteristic “blip” in the magnetic field

Thought to possess a vast subsurface ocean of liquid water, the fourth-largest Jovian moon is a tantalizing place that could have all the right conditions for extraterrestrial life. In fact, NASA is currently designing a devoted mission, called the Europa Clipper, to possibly reveal its habitable potential. But scientists didn’t need a new spacecraft to make this ground-breaking discovery; they studied old data from a spacecraft that was exploring Jupiter in 1997. That’s according to a May 2018 study published in the journal Nature Astronomy. Read more