. 24/7 Space News .
New evidence of watery plumes on Jupiter's moon Europa
by Staff Writers
Gottingen, Germany (SPX) May 13, 2020

Europa is the fourth largest moon of Jupiter.

During a fly-by of Jupiter's moon Europa twenty years ago, NASA's space probe Galileo may have witnessed a plume of water. A group of scientists including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany have now found new evidence of this event.

In computer simulations they strove to reproduce the data gathered by the onboard particle detector that was developed and built at MPS and in the USA. This was only successful under the assumption that a water plume was involved. With its crust of frozen water and subsurface ocean, Europa has environmental conditions that could be favorable for simple forms of life. Water plumes would offer future missions to Jupiter the possibility of coming into direct contact with the moon's water reservoir.

A layered inner structure including a liquid iron core, a thin oxygen-rich atmosphere, an induced magnetic field - Jupiter's fourth largest moon, Europa, has greater resemblance with a planet than with a primitive moon. Another special feature: the up to 18-kilometer thick outer crust of frozen water covers a subsurface ocean of water.

With the new calculations by a group of researchers led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and MPS, there is now increasing evidence that the Jovian moon releases this water into space, at least occasionally, in cryovolcanic eruptions referred to as plumes. Saturn's moon Enceladus is known to display similar behavior. During NASA's Cassini mission, the onboard cameras took spectacular images of its plumes.

Comparable and conclusive proof that also Europa spouts water into space is still missing. "However, various theories, models, and sporadic observations suggest that Europa, too, can exhibit plumes", says MPS scientist Dr. Elias Roussos. In recent years, researchers from several institutes in Europe and the USA have independently found evidence of a specific plume.

Some of these groups evaluated data from the magnetometer on board NASA's Galileo spacecraft, which from 1995 onwards spent eight years exploring the Jovian system. During a fly-by of Europa in 2000, the measured data showed deviations in Jupiter's magnetic field near the moon. These could be due to a plume that occurred at the same time.

ESA scientist Dr. Hans Huybrighs and his colleagues also revisited data from the flyby in 2000 - however this time, they took another look at measurements performed by the Energetic Particles Detector (EPD). This instrument was developed and built at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University (USA) and at MPS. Among other things, EPD recorded the distribution of high-energy protons trapped in Jupiter's magnetic field.

"Jupiter's magnetic field is up to twenty times stronger than Earth's and extends several million kilometers into space," MPS researcher Dr. Norbert Krupp describes the conditions within the Jovian system. Europa orbits Jupiter within this enormous magnetic protective shield. During the flyby, EPD recorded significantly fewer protons near the moon than expected. Previously, researchers had assumed the moon itself to have obstructed the detector's view.

However, the current results indicate another cause. In elaborate computer simulations, scientists led by ESA and MPS modelled the movements of high-energy protons during the flyby attempting to reproduce the measurement data from EPD. This was only successful under the assumption that a plume had influenced Europa's environment.

When high-energy protons collide with uncharged particles from the moon's atmosphere or plume, they incorporate electrons from them thus becoming uncharged particles themselves. "This means they are no longer trapped in Jupiter's magnetic field and can leave the system at high speed," explains first author Dr. Hans Huybrighs from ESA.

For future missions to the Jovian system, Europa's plumes would offer the possibility of coming into direct contact with the moon's subsurface water reservoir and characterizing it. In 2022, ESA's JUICE mission (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer) will embark on its its journey.

MPS will contribute the Submillimeter Wave Instrument (SWI) and the Jupiter Electron and Ion Spectrometer (JEI), one of six sensors from the Particle Environment Package (PEP), to this endeavor. NASA is also preparing the Europa-Clipper mission, which is to be launched in 2023 to the Jovian system. MPS is involved in the mission's science team.

Related Links
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
The million outer planets of a star called Sol

Thanks for being there;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

Telescopes and spacecraft join forces to probe deep into Jupiter's atmosphere
Washington DC (SPX) May 08, 2020
Researchers using a technique known as "lucky imaging" with the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii's Maunakea have collected some of the highest resolution images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground. These images are part of a multi-year joint observing program with the Hubble Space Telescope in support of NASA's Juno mission. The Gemini images, when combined with the Hubble and Juno observations, reveal that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and ... read more

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

NASA Funds Artemis Student Challenges to Inspire Space Exploration

Astronauts Leave "Microbial Fingerprint" on Space Station

Spider eyes in space

Ready, set, go for COVID-conscious astronaut training

Digipen student project heading to space on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket

Three types of rockets to shoulder construction of China's space station

Launch Complex 39B prepared to support Artemis I

Firefly Aerospace achieves AS9100 Quality Certification and readies for first Firefly Alpha launch

NASA Perseverance Mars Rover Scientists Train in the Nevada Desert

NASA's Perseverance Rover Mission Getting in Shape for Launch

Perseverance Presses On, Remains Targeted for Summer Launch

Study suggests terrestrial life unlikely to contaminate Mars

China's new spacecraft returns to Earth: official

China says launch of key new space rocket 'successful'

China's experimental new-generation manned spaceship works normally in orbit

China's space test hits snag with capsule 'anomaly'

Inmarsat launches solution for the rail industry

ThinKom completes Antenna Interoperability Demonstrations on Ku-Band LEO constellation

Building satellites amid COVID-19

Infostellar has raised a total of $3.5M in convertible bonds

AI powers novel ISR capability for operations in denied communications environments

Russia Probes Explosion of One of Its Used Boosters in Orbit

Space age for metals, foams and the living

Russian rocket breaks up in Earth orbit: space agency

Scientists reveal solar system's oldest molecular fluids could hold the key to early life

New 'planetary quarantine' report reviewing risks of alien contamination

Life on the rocks helps scientists understand how to survive in extreme environments

Study: Life might survive, and thrive, in a hydrogen world

Telescopes and spacecraft join forces to probe deep into Jupiter's atmosphere

Newly reprocessed images of Europa show 'chaos terrain' in crisp detail

Mysteries of Uranus' oddities explained by Japanese astronomers

Jupiter probe JUICE: Final integration in full swing

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.