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NASA Hubble Telescope spots more water evidence on Jupiter's moon Europa
NASA believes Europa could sustain life.
NASA's Hubble Telescope has found more evidence of water on the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa. It is one of the 50 moons orbiting the gas giant and is also considered to be a "top candidate" for life elsewhere in the solar system.
NASA sees Europa as a potential candidate to sustain life because it is said to have a massive, salty, subsurface ocean that is twice the size of Earth's seas.
"Today, we are presenting new Hubble evidence for water vapor plumes being expelled from the icy surface of Europa," William Sparks, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore told the media.
The plumes were observed using ultraviolet images taken by Hubble telescope. They were seen around the southern edge of the moon and appear as "dark fingers or patches of possible absorption," Sparks said.
"If plumes exist this is an exciting finding because it potentially gives easier access to the ocean below," said Sparks.
However, more evidence is required for the astronomers to be certain about the existence of water on the moon. "I do want to stress that the observations are at the limit of what Hubble can do," he added. "We do not claim to have proven the existence of plumes but rather to have contributed evidence that such activity may be present."
The space agency has already hinted its plans to send a robotic spacecraft to orbit Jupiter's moon in the 2020s. The mission will observe the habitability of Europa, and see if the conditions could sustain life.
Back in 2018, Hubble data confirmed that Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, has an underground ocean which has more water than the oceans on Earth.
"For a long time, humanity has been wondering whether there is life beyond Earth, and we are lucky to live in an era when we can address questions like that scientifically," said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at Nasa headquarters.