Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland have discovered the presence of water vapor above the surface on Europa. Astro-biologists regard Europa, the fourth-largest moon of Jupiter, as one of the solar system’s best bets to host alien life.
Researchers examined Europa using the W. M. Keck Observatory telescope which is one of the biggest telescopes in the world. Researchers used a spectrograph to detect the chemical compositions of planets’ atmospheres by scanning the infrared light they release or absorb. Out of 17 observations, they detected the signal for water vapor.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Astronomy. According to NASA, “They detected enough water releasing from Europa (5,202 pounds, or 2,360 kilograms, per second) to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool within minutes,”
Lead researcher and NASA planetary scientist Lucas Paganini said, “We suggest that the outgassing of water vapour on Europa occurs at lower levels than previously estimated, with only rare localized events of stronger activity,”
For further exploration NASA is planning to send its Europa Clipper mission in the mid-2020s.
“We are on the cusp of exploring what may be the best place in our solar system to look for life beyond Earth,” NASA said.