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NASA probe data show evidence of liquid water on Jupiter's icy moon

(Xinhua)

15:10, November 17, 2011

Data from NASA's Galileo spacecraft have provided scientists evidence of what appears to be a body of liquid water, equal in volume to the North American Great Lakes, beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa, the US space agency announced Wednesday.

The data suggest there is significant exchange between Europa's icy shell and the ocean beneath. This information could bolster arguments that Europa's global subsurface ocean represents a potential habitat for life elsewhere in our solar system. The findings will be published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature.

Europa, which is slightly smaller than Earth's moon, is believed to have a large ocean of salty water deep beneath its frozen crust. Galileo spacecraft, launched by the space shuttle Atlantis in 1989, studied Jupiter, which is the most massive planet in the solar system, and some of its many moons.

Pictures of it sent back by Galileo point to a tortured surface of cracks and jumbled ice. Seeking to understand how such weird topography evolved in a place with such dim sunlight, scientists believe that the answer lies in similar processes on Earth.

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