Although the phase
of this moon might appear familiar, the moon itself might not.
In fact, this
gibbous phase shows
The robot spacecraft
this image mosaic during its
mission orbiting Jupiter from 1995 - 2003.
Visible are plains of
cracks that run to the horizon, and
that likely contain both ice and dirt.
Raised terrain is
particularly apparent near the
where it casts shadows.
Europa is nearly the same size as
Earth's Moon, but much smoother, showing few
large impact craters.
Evidence and images from the
that liquid oceans might exist below the icy
To test speculation that these seas hold life, NASA and
started preliminary development of the
Europa Jupiter System Mission, a
spacecraft proposed for launch around 2020 that would further explore Jupiter and in particular Europa.
If the surface ice is thin enough, a future mission might drop
hydrobots to burrow into the oceans
and search for life.
reprocessed by Ted Stryk