Possible water vapor plumes have been erupting on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, spraying water jets as high as 125 miles high, NASA announced Monday.
The discovery was picked up by the Hubble Space Telescope, and could be exciting news for future missions, NASA said.
“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement.
“These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.”
In 10 separate occurrences spanning 15 months, the NASA team observed Europa passing in front of Jupiter, noting possible plumes erupting on 3 of these occasions, NASA said.
If confirmed, Europa would be the 2nd Moon in the solar system known to have water vapor plumes. In Y 2005, NASA’s Cassini orbiter detected jets of water vapor and dust spewing off the surface of Saturn’s Moon Enceladus, according to NASA.