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 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
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