The plumes were found when Europa was farthest away from Jupiter, a time when gravitational stresses are strongest, added Lorenz Roth, with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.
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"When Europa is close to Jupiter, it gets stressed and the poles get squished and the cracks close up. Then, as it moves further away from Jupiter, it becomes un-squished, the pole moves outward and that's when the cracks open," planetary scientist Francis Nimmo, with the University of California in Santa Cruz told Discovery News.
Using data from Hubble, scientists were able to correlate the plumes with the appearance of cracks in moon's surface ice.
Additional observations with Hubble are planned to attempt to verify the findings. Scientists also will be re-examining archived data collected by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, which made nine passes by Europa in the late 1990s.
"We'll have some other great results, or another controversy," Green said.