The data which was captured by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft when it orbited Jupiter in 1990 shows that there might be the presence of a plume of water vapour. These water vapour may come out from the cracks that have occurred in the surface of the moon Europa, and this provides a strong proof to scientists that there is a vast sub-surface beneath under the frozen crust.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the signs of this type of water plumes for multiple times for the past half decade. In a new study, researchers have studied the NASA’s Galileo Jupiter probe which has orbited the planet from 1995 to 2003 and had detected Europa plume.
This was detected by the spacecraft’s magnetometer which helps in measuring the charged particles in the environment. The instrument has measured a field which is rotated across the hundreds of miles, and there is a brief and sharp change in the field strength when then plasma wave instrument recorded the increase in density of the charged particles near the spacecraft.
Margaret Kivelson, who is the professor of Space Physics at the University of California and also led the Galileo magnetometer team said, “The material that is coming out from Europa is probably electrically neutral, water vapour probably dominates it. But there are lots of energetic particles in the environment of Europa, and they ionize the material, so they make it an electrically charged, and it’s those electrically charged parts of the plume that cause the changes in the magnetic field and change the density of the electrons in the environment that were measured by the plasma wave instrument. So it’s not a direct effect on the environment from the plume, it’s a two-step process.”
The associate professor at the University of Michigan, XianzheJia, who led the team which has studied the Galileo data again said that the location, variations, and duration that are seen in the magnetometer and plasma wave data are constant and matches the data of the Hubble. In a paper which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy, it states that the results which have collected from two spacecraft show that there is strong evidence that the is water plumes present at Europa. On publication of the paper, many people are not believing it and said that this data which are shown are hopeful but not convincing.