This is a close-up image of Europa
Click on image for full size
Can there be Life in the Environment of Europa?
At first glance Europa may seem unfriendly to
life as we know it
Like other icy moons, Europa is small, with no atmosphere to speak of, with direct exposure to space and the charged particle environment of Jupiter's magnetosphere. With no atmosphere there is no buffer between the surface and space itself, therefore the surface of Europa extremely cold.
Nevertheless, the interior of Europa may have been warm enough at one time to contain a liquid layer just under the surface. On Earth, we know that there are some creatures which can survive in an environment of very cold water, such as under the ice of the north pole.
This means that, if the conditions are just right, there may be living creatures on Europa under the icy surface!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
The Galileo mission discovered an amazing thing. 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
Jupiter's magnetosphere is a unique object in the solar system. It is the biggest object in the entire solar system. Not only is it big enough to contain all of Jupiter's moons, but the sun itself could...more
The diagram shows possibilities for the interior structure of Europa. There is a core of rocky material buried inside, overlain with ice of various phases. The diagram shows that there may be an ocean...more
Amalthea was discovered by E Barnard in 1872. Of the 17 moons it is the 3rd closest to Jupiter, with a standoff distance of 181,300 km. Amalthea is about the size of a county or small state, and is just...more
Callisto was first discovered by Galileo in 1610, making it one of the Galilean Satellites. Of the 60 moons it is the 8th closest to Jupiter, with a standoff distance of 1,070,000 km. It is the 2nd largest...more
Most of the moons and planets formed by accretion of rocky material and volatiles out of the primitive solar nebula and soon thereafter they differentiated. Measurements by the Galileo spacecraft have...more
Many examples of the differing types of terrain are shown in this image. In the foreground is a huge impact crater, which extends for almost an entire hemisphere on the surface. This crater may be compared...more