The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has discovered water vapour erupting from the frigid surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, in one or more localised plumes near its south pole.
Europa is already thought to harbour a liquid ocean beneath its icy crust, making the moon one of the main targets in the search for habitable worlds away from Earth. This new finding is the first observational evidence of water vapour being ejected off the moon's surface.
Space agency scientists are developing two separate mission concepts to assess, and learn how to exploit, stores of water ice on the moon and other lunar resources. The projects — called Lunar Flashlight and the ResourceProspector Mission — are notionally targeted to blast off in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and aim to help humanity extend its footprint out into the solar system.
According to MSL scientists based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., the ball isn't as big as it looks — it's approximately one centimeter wide. Their explanation is that it is most likely something known as a "concretion." Other examples of concretions have been found on the Martian surface before — take, for example, the tiny haematite concretions, or "blueberries", observed by Mars rover Opportunity in 2004 — and they were created during sedimentary rock formation when Mars was abundant in liquid water many millions of years ago.
In 2007, the Department of Water Protection in Los Angeles detected high levels of bromate, a carcinogen that forms when bromide and chlorine react with sunlight, in Los Angeles's Ivanhoe Reservoir. Bromide is naturally present in groundwater and chlorine is used to kill bacteria, but sunlight is the final ingredient in the potentially harmful mix
The water that supports life on Earth may have been on the planet much earlier than scientists previously thought, new research suggests.
While the environmental conditions in Earth's early years made it impossible for water to remain on the planet's surface, scientists have found evidence that the ingredients for water were protectively stored inside rocky bodies near our planet — and maybe inside Earth itself. The new findings suggest that there was water in the inner solar system 135 million years earlier than previous evidence had shown.