Image: Artist's impression of Europa's possible geysers blasting jets of water vapor into space as the moon casts a shadow on Jupiter. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)
Europa, one of Jupiter's large, ocean-bearing moons, appears to have plumes of water vapor intermittently blasting off the icy surface into space.
The finding, announced on Monday, buttresses a single Europa plume sighting by Hubble in December 2012, but is not conclusive, astronomers said during a conference call with reporters on Monday.
If the plumes turn out to be real, scientists may have an easier way to probe Europa's buried ocean for organic materials and even signs of life.
RELATED: Evidence Mounts for Ocean on Jupiter's Moon Europa
"Europa's ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system," Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. "These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa's subsurface."
Astronomers estimate the plumes rise about 125 miles into space before raining material back down onto Europa's surface.
WATCH VIDEO: HUGE Water Geysers Found on Jupiter's Moon!