New hints of water on Europa are found in old data

Europa and Galileo
An artist’s conception shows the Galileo spacecraft passing through a plume erupting from the surface of Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter. A new computer simulation gives us an idea of how the magnetic field interacted with a plume. The magnetic field lines (depicted in blue) show how the plume interacts with the flow of Jovian plasma. (NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Michigan Illustration)

A closer look at magnetic and plasma wave readings from NASA’s now-defunct Galileo spacecraft firms up the evidence for claims that plumes of water periodically spray out from the surface of Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter. Such claims have sparked speculation that life forms might live in an ocean beneath the ice, and that traces of such life could be detected by a future mission.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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