May 5, 2020 - Science

The chaos of Jupiter's moon Europa

Miriam Kramer, author of Space

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

Jupiter's moon Europa — with its icy shell and subsurface ocean — has long sparked the imaginations of scientists and science fiction writers alike.

What's new: Newly reprocessed images first taken in the 1990s by NASA's Galileo spacecraft show the moon's "chaos terrain" in new relief.

  • The bright white and blue regions are made of water ice, while the reddish color is caused by salts and other minerals, according to NASA.

What's next: Researchers are particularly interested in learning more about Europa because the moon is thought to be one of the best places to hunt for possible life in the solar system.

  • Scientists are hoping to use these newly processed photos to help with planning for NASA's Europa Clipper mission, expected to launch in the 2020s to perform a series of flybys to study the moon from close range.

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