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Hubble Finds 'Surprising' Activity on Jupiter's Moon Europa

by Alyssa Newcomb /
The surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa as seen in images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s.NASA via AFP - Getty Images

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Jupiter's moon Europa might be making it rain with water vapor plumes erupting off its surface.

NASA revealed the "surprising activity" today and said the observations came from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa as seen in images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s.NASA via AFP - Getty Images

Europa is believed to be one of the most likely places in the solar system that could harbor life. The discovery of possible water jets spraying from the moon's surface is particularly exciting for scientists.

Related: Where the Candidates Stand on NASA and Space Exploration

Instead of drilling into miles of ice to sample the ocean, the jets would make it easier for a future mission to sample Europa's ocean, Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate said in a statement.

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“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” Yoder said. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.”

The water jets are estimated to spray as high as 125 miles, according to NASA. Europa is home to a massive ocean that NASA says holds twice as much water as all of the oceans on Earth.

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