An Ocean Beyond Earth: Europa Awaits

It’s no secret that Earth’s ocean is filled with life, much of it still a mystery or totally unknown to science. But what about the ocean on other worlds? I’m not talking about sci-fi planets or suspected alien Earths around other stars, but right here in our own solar system, where an ocean even deeper than ours lies hidden beneath a global shell of ice.

Scientists believe there is an ocean hidden beneath the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. In the video above, NASA-JPL astrobiologist Kevin Hand explains why scientists are so excited about the potential of this ice-covered world to answer one of humanity’s most profound questions: does life exist beyond Earth?

To learn more about Europa click here, and see the latest enhanced version of a Galileo image of Europa below:

A newly-reprocessed color view of Europa made from images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

A newly-reprocessed color view of Europa made from images taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

Images taken through near-infrared, green and violet filters have been combined to produce this view, approximating what our eyes might see. The images have been corrected for light scattered outside of the image to provide a color correction that is calibrated by wavelength. Gaps in the images have been filled with simulated color based on the color of nearby surface areas with similar terrain types.

Areas that appear blue or white contain relatively pure water ice, while reddish and brownish areas include non-ice components in higher concentrations.

This global color view consists of images acquired by the Galileo Solid-State Imaging (SSI) experiment on the spacecraft’s first and fourteenth orbits through the Jupiter system, in 1995 and 1998, respectively. Image scale is 2 miles (1.6 kilometers) per pixel. North on Europa is at right. (Source)

“All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landing there.”
– 2010

The hell with that, HAL. Let’s go!

UPDATE FEB. 2015: NASA is now a step closer to Europa, with $30 million requested for preliminary research into an exploration mission called Europa Clipper. Read more here.


About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on November 21, 2014, in Jupiter, Moons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I can’t wait that a probe – Juno?? – tells us if there is well an ocean under the ice of Europe. And was able to be the life…
    Jeff Barani from Vence (France)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Mr. Walsh and commented:
    This is so cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Morsels For The Mind – 28/11/2014 › Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast

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