Why don’t Europa’s plumes have heat signatures?

earthsky.org | 10/29/2018 | Paul Scott Anderson
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Click For Photo: https://en.es-static.us/upl/2018/10/europa-plume-artist-cp2-300x169.jpg

Artist’s concept of a water vapor plume on Europa. New research shows that, if they do exist, Europa’s plumes aren’t as dynamic as those on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Image via NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SwRI.

Does Jupiter’s moon Europa have water vapor plumes? A growing body of evidence in the last few years suggests the answer is yes, but a final confirmation has remained elusive. If the plumes do exist on Europa, they seem to be less active than those on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where huge geyser-like plumes erupt from the moon’s south pole on a regular basis. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope has strengthened the case for plumes on Europa. But a new finding – presented on October 22, 2018, at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee – has thrown a wrench into the possibility.

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Researchers led by Julie Rathbun of the Planetary Science Institute said they found a lack of the expected heat signatures at locations where Europa’s plumes should originate. In other words … no hot spots.


The new peer-reviewed findings were just published.

Jupiter’s moon Europa as captured by the Galileo spacecraft, which orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003. Galileo found the 1st evidence that a global ocean of liquid water exists under Europa’s icy crust. Image via NASA/Galileo.

Rathbun - Statement

Rathbun explained in a statement:

We searched through the available Galileo thermal data at the locations proposed as the sites of potential plumes. Reanalysis of temperature data from the Galileo mission does not show anything special in the locations where plumes have possibly been observed. There are no hotspot signatures at either of the sites.

Enceladus - Plumes - Signature - Site - Origin

This is surprising because the Enceladus plumes have a clear thermal signature at their site of origin, so this suggests that either the Europa...
(Excerpt) Read more at: earthsky.org
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