"We come with these large pockets of water that form lakes. As they melt they actually break up the ice above it, like what you see on Earth," she said.
"This is certainly the best model so far," Paul Schenk, a staff scientist with the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, wrote in an email to Discovery News. "If we go back with penetrating radar instruments we should be able to see into the ice shell, determine the stratigraphy of the layers in the shell and verify which models works best."
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Europa, which is slightly smaller than Earth's moon, is believed to have a large ocean of salty water deep beneath its frozen crust. These recently discovered lakes appear to be embedded closer to the surface.
"Europa has more water than all of Earth's oceans," planetary scientist Simon Kattenhorn, with the University of Idaho, told Discovery News.
While the ocean itself is of interest to scientists searching for life beyond Earth, a mechanism to churn the surface ice and subsurface water makes Europa an even more compelling target.