Discontinuous layer of water at or near the Earth's surface. It includes all liquid and frozen surface waters, groundwater held in soil and rock, and atmospheric water vapour. Virtually all of these waters are in constant circulation through the hydrologic cycle. Although the components of the hydrosphere are undergoing continuous change of state and location, the total water budget remains in balance. The components of the hydrosphere have been seriously affected by the water-polluting activities of modern society.
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A thick hydrosphere is thought to exist around the Jovian moon Europa. The outer layer of this hydrosphere is almost entirely frozen, but current models predict that there is an ocean up to 100 km in depth underneath the ice. This ocean remains in a liquid form due to tidal flexing of the moon in its orbit around Jupiter.
It has been suggested that the Jovian moon Ganymede and the Saturnian moon Enceladus may also possess sub-surface oceans. However the ice covering is expected to be thicker on Jupiter's Ganymede than on Europa.