Europa Facts

Europa Facts
Europa is one of the Galilean moons of Jupiter that was discovered by astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610. It is the sixth closest moon of Jupiter and the smallest of its four Galilean satellites. It is also the sixth largest of the 181 moons in the Solar System. It was named after Zeus' lover Europa, daughter of the king of Tyre and mother of King Minos of Crete. She was courted by Zeus and then became the queen of Crete. Europa is slightly smaller than the Moon and is mostly made of silicate rock and has a thick, icy crust which scientists believe was from a salt-water ocean existing beneath the surface. If scientists are correct with that theory, the estimated volume is slightly more than double the water in the oceans on Earth.
Interesting Europa Facts:
Europa is about 4.5 billion years old, however it's surface is only around 20 to 280 million years old which makes it fairly young.
The discovery of Europa and the other 3 Galilean moons, lo, Ganymede and Callisto, is what eventually lead scientists to the discovery of a sun-centered Solar System. Before this discovery, it was believed that the earth was the center and the planets orbited around the earth.
The smoothest object in the Solar System is Europa. That is because the surface is made of frozen water. There are no mountains and very few craters since it is relatively young.
The radiation levels on Europa are high enough to kill a human being in a single day. It is the result of solar radiation and energetic particles produced by Jupiter's strong magnetic field.
On average, Europa's distance from the sun is about 485 million miles (780 kilometers).
Europa's orbital distance from Jupiter is 414,000 miles (670,900 kilometers). It takes Europa three and a half Earth-days to orbit Jupiter, with its orbit being nearly circular. Europa is tidally locked, so the same tides always face Jupiter.
Data and pictures suggest Europa is made of silicate rock, has an iron core and rocky mantle, similar to Earth. Unlike the interior of Earth, the rocky interior of Europa is surrounded by a layer of ice that is approximately 62 miles (100 kilometers) thick.
The sea salt from a subsurface ocean may be coating some geological features on Europa which suggests that the ocean is interacting with the seafloor. This is important in determining if Europa could be habitable.
The surface temperature at the equator of Europa never rises above minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 160 degrees Celsius). The temperature never rises above minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 220 degrees Celsius) at the poles of the moon.
Europa is smaller than Earth's Moon, but larger than Pluto at 1,900 miles (3,100 kilometers) in diameter. It is the smallest of the Galilean moons.
Many spacecraft have visited Europa; however, no spacecraft has yet landed. Launched in 1989, the Galileo spacecraft did a long-term mission at Jupiter and its moons which provided all the current data.
The Hubble Space Telescope detected water vapor plumes on Europa and are thought to be caused by erupting cryogeysers. This is similar to those observed on Saturn's moon Enceladus.


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