Charles Q. Choi
December 12, 2013
Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may erupt with fleeting plumes of water more than 20 times the height of Mt. Everest, scientists say.
If these giant waterspouts are confirmed, they could be a way to detect signs of any life that might exist in the underground ocean that researchers suspect Europa has, scientists added. They were spotted by comparing recent and older images of Europa taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Europa is about the size of Earth’s moon. Beneath an icy crust maybe 10 to 15 miles (15 to 25 kilometers) thick, investigators think Europa possesses a giant, churning ocean perhaps up to 100 miles (160 km) deep. Since there is life virtually wherever there is water on Earth, researchers have long wondered if Europa could support life. [Photos: Europa, Mysterious Icy Moon of Jupiter]