Europa Moon Facts
The lines on the surface are cracks in the ice some of which are 3,000 kilometers long
- Europa is the sixth moon in distance from the planet Jupiter and the fourth largest.
- Europa's diameter is 1,940 miles (3,122 kilometers), slightly smaller than Earth's moon.
- Europa takes three and a half days to orbit Jupiter at an average distance of 416,900 miles (670,900 kilometers).
- Jupiter's huge gravitational force heats up Europa's interior, melting the ice underneath its surface producing a salty ocean which could be as much as 62 miles (100 km) deep.
- There is possibly twice as much liquid water on Europa as there is on
- The darker areas on Europa's surface are suggestive of microbial
- Europa is thought to have an iron core just like Earth.
- The moon was discovered in January 1610 by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei.
- Europa is sometimes referred to as Jupiter II (Jupiter 2).
The spots seen here are 10 km across, suggesting warmer ice rising from below
Europa's SurfaceThe surface of Europa is covered with a thick layer of ice. It is incredibly smooth with very little change in altitude, there are also very few notable craters due to the splitting and shifting of the surface removing any impacts.
Europa's AtmosphereEuropa has an extremely tenuous atmosphere comprising of oxygen.
Europa's TemperatureEuropa's surface temperatures range from -160C to -220C (-260F to -370F). Scientists can only speculate on the temperature of the ocean which lies beneath its surface but it is obviously warm enough for liquid water to exist.
Future space probe in Europa's ocean
Life on EuropaApart from Earth, Europa holds the most intriguing prospects for life in the entire Solar System. Some scientists speculate that Europa's ocean could be teeming with life although most think that life would take the form of micro-organisms living near hot vents on the ocean floor.
Origin of NameOriginally Galileo named the moons with roman numerals, Jupiter I, II, III and IV which persisted until the mid 20th century. The naming of the moons after the lovers of Zeus from Greek mythology was suggested by the German astronomer Simon Marius who claimed he discovered the moons before Galileo but this has never been proven. Europa is named after the daughter of the king of Tyre.