A "science chat" held by NASA at noon today could prove to be quite interesting as it pertains to one of the most promising places for life in our solar system.
"There were some anomalous features in that close pass in December 1997 that we never fully understood", said Margaret Kivelson, a senior scientist on the Galileo mission and emeritus professor of space physics at the University of California in Los Angeles.
The interpretation of those images has been debated; the images pushed the limits of Hubble's sensitivity, and sometimes the space telescope was unable to spot the plumes altogether.
Old data from NASA's Galileo mission suggest the spacecraft may have passed through a giant water plume spewing into space from Europa's surface. According to Jai, data studied here showed "compelling independent evidence that there seems to be a plume on Europa".
This could help scientists to determine if Europa's ocean is habitable to life - or detect signs of it directly - without having to land a probe on the moon's surface.
Kivelson explained that the Plume's electrically charged particles bring about the magnetic field shifts and shift in the density of electrons within the environment, as estimated by the "plasma wave" equipment.
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The study looked at the magnetic and plasma wave signatures captured by NASA's spacecraft Galileo, which reached Jupiter's atmosphere in 2003.
"The sudden, short-duration jump in the frequency of intense emissions can be interpreted as consistent with a highly localized source of plasma, thereby supporting the hypothesis that the magnetic perturbations arise from passage through a localized plume", write the authors of a new paper describing the findings in Nature Astronomy.
But in 2016, and again in 2017, scientists reported that more Hubble images pointed to the presence of a plume, though something less dramatically exuberant than the geysers of Enceladus, which fly so high that they create a ring around Saturn.
But the water could originate elsewhere, Jia cautioned.
Recently, evidence has been building that Europa may have a plume as well.
At the time the blip in the data was unexplained but it is now believed it was a water plume.
In addition, "to make sense of the observations, we had to really go for sophisticated numerical modeling" techniques, he told Space.com.
"Even with our wildest imagination, we always see stuff that we totally did not expect", McGrath says.
"If plumes exist, and we can directly sample what's coming from the interior of Europa, then we can more easily get at whether Europa has the ingredients for life".
The Europa Clipper mission is expected to shed more light on the elusive moon with rapid, low-altitude flybys from its orbit. During this trip, the spacecraft swung by Europa 11 times, conducting radio experiments that hint of an atmosphere.