Scientists consider Jupiter’s moon “Europa” to be a fascinating moon because of its potential to sustain life. Europa is a moon which contains a thick icy shell along its surface. But what scientists theorize is that an ocean of water exists underneath that shell. In fact, they believe the ocean underneath Europa’s shell has twice the amount of water as all of the oceans on Earth.
If this is true, then it is possible that life could exist in the water. This is what scientists have been studying for quite some time now. The problem is scientists do not know how thick Europa’s icy shell actually is. This would make it challenging if they ever wanted to try and collect water samples from the moon.
Recently, it was reported by NASA that astronomers of their organization have discovered water vapor plumes coming out of Europa’s surface. These plumes may be a clear indication that water truly does exist underneath the exterior of the icy moon. The NASA astronomers were able to locate these plumes using the Hubble Space Telescope. It is estimated that these plumes erupted roughly 125 miles up and then came back down as rain onto the surface of Europa. What makes these findings particularly interesting is that it may give scientists a new way of collecting water samples from the moon without having to drill into its icy shell.
NASA is currently taking the James Webb Space Telescope and designing an infrared version of it. This is scheduled to get released in 2018. Once it does, NASA will be able to confirm whether Europa truly does have water plumes. If they do, scientists can then take the next step in sending out a rover or some other scientific device to the moon to collect water samples and conduct tests on them.