astroengine writes "Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have found plumes of water vapor shooting off the southern pole of Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter that is believed to have an underground ocean. If confirmed — so far the plumes have only been spotted once — the finding could have implications for the moon's suitability for life and help explain why its surface appears relatively young and crater-free. "The plumes are incredibly exciting, if they are there. They're bringing up material from in the ocean, perhaps there's organic material that will be laying on the surface of the south pole. Those are the things that we want to know about," James Green, head of NASA's planetary science programs, told reporters at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco on Thursday."
from the my-favorite-moon dept.
volcanopele writes "NASA and the European Space Agency announced today that they have selected the Europa/Jupiter System Mission as the next large mission to the outer solar system. For the last year, the Europa mission has been in competition with a proposal to send a mission to Saturn's moon Titan, as reported on Slashdot earlier. The Europa Mission includes two orbiters: one developed by NASA to orbit the icy moon Europa and another developed by ESA to orbit the solar system's largest moon, Ganymede. Both orbiters would spend up to 2.5 years in orbit around Jupiter before settling into orbit around their respective targets, studying Jupiter's satellites, rings, and of course the planet itself. The mission is scheduled to launch in 2020 and arrive at Jupiter in 2025 and 2026."