NASA announces new evidence of water plumes on Europa

NASAs Hubble telescope.
(Image credit: NASA via Getty Images)

NASA announced Monday that its Hubble Space Telescope has found more evidence of "water plumes" on the surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa. If the plumes, which NASA describes as water vapor "erupting off" Europa's surface, do in fact exist, it would offer scientists hoping to study Europa's massive subsurface ocean a way to study the water without having to drill through miles of hard ice to get there.

Europa's ocean has two times the amount of water Earth's oceans have, making it "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 press release.

The latest findings mark the second time NASA has reported spotting water plumes on Europa's surface; in November and December 2012, scientists noticed water vapor near the moon's southern pole. NASA is planning to launch two missions to Europa sometime in the next decade, Ars Technica reported.

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For more on the plumes — including what they may look like — watch NASA's video, below. Becca Stanek

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