Pictures Show Evidence of Water on Europa

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New, closer-than-ever pictures of Jupiter's moon, Europa, bolster the theory that an ocean containing life exists beneath the moon's icy crust.

The pictures, taken by the spacecraft Galileo in December, show a 16-mile wide crater whose surface may have been created by water that rose from below and froze on the surface, scientists said Monday.

Also found were iceberg-like features surrounded by what resembles frozen slushy ice. Still another clue is an area of the moon's crust that has pulled apart and then filled in with a material, possibly from below, similar to what happens on the Earth's ocean floor.

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"It's an incredibly exciting place because it has the potential to teach us about the origin of Earth and maybe even life," says James Head, a scientist at Brown University.

Scientists speculate Europa could contain life because it has the key ingredients: heat, water, and organic material from comets and meteorites.

Brown and Arizona State University are helping NASA analyze the photos, which are detailed enough to see a truck-sized object on Europa's surface.

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