Europa is one of Jupiter’s largest moons along with Callisto, Ganymede, and Io discovered by Galileo Galilei. Europa is the smallest among these four moons and ranked to be one of the few that have potential to host life in the solar system. It is said that Europa has an icy surface making many researchers believe that it certainly has existing bodies of water beneath its grounds. Europa’s shiny ice surface makes it one of the most reflective in our solar system.
Europa’s Age and Size
The icy moon Europa was said to exist for over 4.5 billion years, the same age of Jupiter. Europa’s size was about 3,100 miles (1,900 km) in diameter making it the 15th largest body in the solar system and smaller than Earth’s moon.
Galileo Galilei was the one who discovered Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter, and three other moons in the Jupiter’s orbit. He discovered the moon on January 8, 1610 using a low-powered telescope. It was also said that Simon Marius also discovered the moon at the same date; however, Galileo Galilei was the one who was always credited for this discovery.
Jupiter’s name was derived from Jupiter of the Romans also known as Zeus. Many of the Jupiter’s moons are also derived from Greek mythology including the three other moons that was discovered by Galileo. Europa was a mortal princess who was abducted by Zeus; he transformed into a white bull and seduced Europa when she came out to pick some flowers bearing Europa 3 children.
Life in Europa
Scientist believed that bodies of water exist beneath the ice surface of Europa, thus the possibilities of having life. They made several expeditions to have a photograph taken from the moon. Only 10 to 15 percent of the moon’s surface has been photographed and with a decent resolution. These photographs showed that Europa has smooth icy surface.
Galileo Mission was launched on 19th of October, 1989 and end on 21st of September 2003. Its main mission was to explore Jupiter’s moon and rings and Jupiter itself and it was a huge success sending hundreds of pictures back to Earth.
Europa is the sixth satellite nearest to Jupiter, its distance from Jupiter is 670,900 km (414,000 miles) while its distance from the sun is approximately 780 million km (485 million miles). It only takes three and a half days for Europa to orbit Jupiter and it is facing Jupiter with only one side.
Dark and Mysterious Material
Dark and mysterious material was said to be found in Europa. Studies show that this dark material was salt that came from the moon’s crust. It is also suggested that the salt came out from within Europa but until today, there are no such telescope that can provide proofs that salt was really that dark material.
Reports said that Europa’s crust is made up of 10-kilometer-thick ice with an ocean of approximately 160-kilometer-deep beneath it. The surface temperature of Europa was about 260 degrees Fahrenheit or negative 160 degrees Celsius while at the poles has temperatures not exceeding to 370 Fahrenheit or negative 220 Celsius.
Europa having an atmosphere was discovered by the Galileo mission. The atmosphere was created when molecules from Jupiter’s magnetosphere hits water molecules from Europa’s surface, these molecules float around Europa’s atmosphere burst out eventually due to its weak gravity, because of the molecules that comes out from Europa, Jupiter has a donut shaped belt material insides its magnetosphere.