This is an image of Europa taken by the Galileo spacecraft in natural and enhanced colors.
Click on image for full size
Europa was first discovered by Galileo
in 1610, making it one of the Galilean Satellites
. It is Jupiter's 4th largest moon, 670,900 km from Jupiter. With a diameter that is about half the distance across the United States, 3138 km (1950 miles), Europa is close to the same size as the Earth's moon
for a comparison between Earth's Moon and Europa).
is named after one of Jupiter's
girlfriends from Greek mythology
. The Galileo spacecraft
discovered that there is the strong possibility that it has an ocean
underneath its icy surface! The last time an ocean was discovered was the Pacific Ocean, 500 years ago. This means Europa is one of the few moons
in the solar system with the possibility of a liquid water environment which could be friendly to life
. The surface
has many interesting features, even though it is mostly made of ice
. Europa also has a very fragile atmosphere
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Europa was the beautiful daughter of the king of Tyre, Agenor. Zeus (Jupiter), the King of the gods according to Greek mythology, saw Europa as she was gathering flowers by the sea a nd immediately fell...more
The Galileo spacecraft was launched on October 19, 1989. Galileo had two parts: an orbiter and a descent probe that parachuted into Jupiter's atmosphere. Galileo's main mission was to explore Jupiter and...more
The surface of Europa shows many signs of that there may be an ocean under the surface: * flooded terrain * 'freckles' * rafting * 'mushy' craters, and * spreading centers. Taken together, these pieces...more
The picture to the left shows examples of the many amazing different surface features of Europa. Many exciting discoveries were made about Europa during the Galileo mission. The surface of Europa is unusual,...more
The diagram to the left shows a cutaway of the possible interior structure of Europa. The composition of the icy moons is mostly ice, therefore there is probably a small core of some rocky material buried...more
The Galileo mission discovered something amazing! Europa has its own atmosphere, although it is very, very thin. This atmosphere is created when fast moving molecules in Jupiter's magnetosphere hit the...more