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 Galilei
in 1610, making it one of the Galilean Satellites
. Europa 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 nearly the same size as the Earth's moon
for a comparison between Earth's Moon and Europa).
is named after one of Jupiter's
many lovers 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 friendly to life
. The surface
has many interesting characteristics, even though it is mostly made of ice
. Europa also has a very fragile atmosphere
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The Galilean satellites are the 4 major moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In this picture, Io, and Io’s surface, are shown on the left-most end, then Europa, and its surface, then Ganymede,...more
Europa was the beautiful daughter of the Phoenician 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 and immediately...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 primary mission was to explore the Jovian...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 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
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