- the sixth moon in distance from the planet Jupiter and the fourth largest.
- diameter is 1,940 miles, slightly smaller than Earth’s moon.
- takes three and a half days to orbit Jupiter at an average distance of 416,900 miles.
- the same tidal forces found on Io also apply to Europa. 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Life on Europa
- apart 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.