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Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SETI Institute

Europa, the second moon of Jupiter, is encased in a thick crust of ice. Sitting far from the Sun, it's one of the last places you would expect to harbor life. But due to its elliptical orbit around Jupiter — it periodically swings closer and further from the giant planet — the differences in gravity flex and squeeze the core, heating it to molten temperatures.

The end result: Buried under 100 kilometers of rock-hard ice is a globe-spanning liquid water ocean. More liquid water than on the Earth. But is there life?

Why it matters: New simulations suggest the icy shell is broken into segments that shift, flex, and subduct, just like the Earth's crust. Essential nutrients on the surface could then make their way to the ocean, providing a possible pathway for life —permanently locked away from sunlight — to survive.

Go deeper

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.

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