Theoretically, a spacecraft could fly over the moon and collect a sample of the water vapor cloud to more easily look for living things in Europa’s ice. There are some practical issues to be worked out first, though.

“One of the biggest unknowns we have with these putative plumes is understanding their timing,” Curt Niebur, the lead scientist for NASA’s Europa mission told NPR. The eruptions appeared only three out of the 10 times the Hubble took images of Europa crossing Jupiter. Astronomers need to be able to predict when these clouds will appear before they can schedule a mission to fly over one of them to try to take a sample to test them for chemistry.

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