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19 Interesting Facts About the Europa Moon to Make You Go Whoa!

Interesting Facts About the Europa Moon
A unique moon that has drawn the attention of astronomers and scientists alike for hundreds of years. This moon of Jupiter with its icy surface and bright appearance is called Europa, which is an intriguing phenomenon of the solar system.
Mary Anthony
Last Updated: Mar 1, 2018
Scientists believe that oceans with depths of 60 miles (100 km) lie beneath the icy surface of Europa. They are speculated as being the deepest oceans in the entire solar system. NASA and ESA are working on an ambitious plan to send an orbiter to study those oceans in the near future.
The discovery of Europa is often credited to the ancient Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. He discovered all the four massive moons of Jupiter which are commonly cited as the Galilean moons.
The telescopic discovery of Europa took place on 8th Jan, 1610, and around this time, the German astronomer, Simon Marius (1573-1624), also made the same discovery but the credit for it remains with Galileo. Europa gets its name from the famous Phoenician Greek mythological beauty who was abducted by Zeus and taken to Crete where she bore him many children.

Let us further explore the amazing facts about this celestial wonder!
Facts about Europa Moon
Till date, around 60 moons of various sizes have been discovered around the planet Jupiter out of which Lo, Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa are the largest.
There is a possible theory that Galileo had discovered Europa on 7th Jan, 1910. It is believed that he could not distinguish it from Lo, the other Jupiter moon, as he was using a low-powered telescope.
Galileo actually did not christen the Galilean moons with names in the beginning, he just numbered them numerically 1 to 4, and as Europa was second closest to the planet Jupiter, he called it Jupiter II.
Jupiter II lost its position to Amalthea moon, when in 1892, it was discovered to be the closest to planet Jupiter, thus, shifting Europa to third position. Later as more discoveries took place, Europa's position moved to number six.
Europa is credited to be as old as planet Jupiter with its estimated age around 4.5 billion years. It is 485 million miles (or 780 million kilometers) away from the Sun.
The same side of Europa faces the planet Jupiter as it orbits around it for approximately three and a half days; the orbital distance being 414,000 miles (670,900 km).
It is estimated to be the 15th largest body in the solar system with a diameter of 1,900 miles (3,100 km).
The surface temperature never rises above minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 160 degrees Celsius) at the equator and 370 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 220 degrees Celsius) at the poles.
In 1989, NASA launched the Galileo mission to study planet Jupiter along with its surrounding bodies. The unmanned Galileo spacecraft orbited around Jupiter from December 8, 1995 till September 21, 2003, collecting all the vital information about Europa that we have today.
Due to its icy crust, Europa has the largest light reflective feature among all the moons of the solar system, which is 0.64.
Scientists claim that the surface is 20 million to 180 million years old. According to pictorial evidence from the Galileo mission, they believe that the surface is made up of silicate rock with an iron core and rocky mantle. The interior is encircled by a thick layer of ice that is approximately 62 miles (or 100 km).
Some theories suggest that there is an oceanic bed beneath the icy crust which might support extraterrestrial life. It is also theorized by scientists that these organisms might surface up from the ice cracks but can be destroyed due to the radiation from Jupiter's magnetosphere. Hence, lot of theories surfaced on the lines that Europa can support life.
Europa is covered with a frozen saltwater ocean; there are ice cracks which are believed to have occurred due to the tidal activity beneath the icy ocean. These are known as 'lineae' which means lines in Latin.
Icebergs have also formed on its surface due to eruptions.
It has a flimsy molecular oxygen atmosphere resulting from charged sunlight particles hitting the water molecules.
The surface is very smooth without any major signs of impact craters. It receives about 5.4 sieverts of radiation per day which is very fatal, and its gravity is 0.134 of Earth's.
The water on its surface forms a sphere, 1,090 miles (1,754 km) in diameter. Thus having more water presence than the entire Earth.
Europa has been the subject of fantasy expeditions in movies like 'Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets' and 'Europa Report.'
The European Space Agency is planning an ambitious robotic mission to Europa, named as the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE), in 2022.
Galileo's discovery of the moons, orbiting around the planet Jupiter, led to the correction of the ancient scientific theory that all the planets revolved around the Sun and not the Earth.
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