On Monday, NASA held a press teleconference with four people to announce the second possible detection of water on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Britney Schmidt, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences was one of the panelists, acting as an outside expert. She played no role in the discovery.
Schmidt is one of Europa’s leading experts. Many think the moon is the best chance to find other life in the solar system, primarily because of its subsurface ocean.
This isn’t the first time we’ve “seen” plumes on Europa. HST data also showed what appeared to be plumes of water vapor shooting about 120 miles from Europa’s surface in December 2012. This detection looks like the same thing, but from a different area. All of the detections to date are just above the noise, making these results exciting but requiring further work to confirm.