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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)

News Brief: 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. Researchers said variations in Galileo’s readings from 1997 are best explained by its passage through a water plume extending 100 miles out into space. That’s in line with observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope. The new findings were published today in Nature Astronomy. For more, check NASA’s news release.

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