Even though the A to Z Challenge is over, and I took a huge break, I’m going to finish it. A lot has happened over the last couple months, but it’s back! Today is the letter E, and I’m talking about Jupiter’s moon Europa! Did you learn anything new?
- Europa is the fourth largest natural satellite of Jupiter.
- It was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei, along with the other three Galilean satellites.
- The surface of Europa is the smoothest surface of any world in the Solar System, consisting of water ice.
- Europa orbits Jupiter in just 3.55 days, with one side always facing Jupiter, as it’s tidally locked.
- Beneath the ice crust is an estimated 100 km deep ocean of salt water. But it isn’t clear if the ice is thick or thin. However, the amount of water on Europa is about two to three times the volume of Earth’s oceans.
- Europa has a weak magnetic field, best explained by Europa’s salt water ocean.
- Tidal heating from the interactions of Europa with Jupiter and the other Galilean satellites warms the interior of the moon, possibly resulting in hydrothermal vents at the floor of the ocean. This has led scientists to suggest that life may exist in Europa’s ocean.
- Europa most likely has an iron core and a rocky mantle.
- Observations by the Hubble Space Telescope provide further evidence of subsurface oceans, as plumes of water have been seen erupting to 200 km above the surface.
- Europa has an oxygen atmosphere. But it’s very thin, providing a surface pressure of only 0.1 micropascals.
Let me know what you learned in the comments section below!