Shop Windows to the Universe

Hands On Mineral Identification helps you to identify over 14,500 minerals! By M. Darby Dyar, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
This is an image of Europa taken by the Galileo spacecraft in natural and enhanced colors.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Europa

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 (click here for a comparison between Earth's Moon and Europa).

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.
Last modified September 17, 2003 by Roberta Johnson.

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, as well as books on science education!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Galilean Satellites

The Galilean satellites are the 4 major moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In this picture, Io, and Ios surface, are shown on the left-most end, then Europa, and its surface, then Ganymede,...more

Europa

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

Galileo

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

Does Europa Have an Ocean?

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

Surface of Europa

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

Interior of Europa

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 Atmosphere of Europa

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

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF