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The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Europa's variable plumes

Europa's variable plumes

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Roth et al. 2013

Europa's variable plumes
The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a plume of water 200 kilometers above Europa's south polar region, but only at one position along its orbit, when the moon was at apoapsis. The bottom diagrams show a model for stresses across cracks in Europa's southern ice shell at different positions in its orbit. As the moon goes in its orbit around Jupiter, it gets squeezed pole-to-pole when close to Jupiter and returns to a more spherical shape when farther from Jupiter. Cracks near the moon's south pole are squeezed together when Europa is close to Jupiter and pulled apart when Europa is far from Jupiter.

Original image data dated on or about December 12, 2013

Explore related images: Jupiter's moons, Hubble Space Telescope, Europa, explaining science

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