Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 19, 2013
This intriguing picture is a close up of Europa’s surface, and was taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1998. Here, we can clearly see the cracking in the surface of the Galilean moon, caused by tectonic activity, which is a result of tidal stresses on Europa from Jupiter; the massive planet the moon calls home. In addition, you can see some craters on the Europan surface caused by meteors. In spite of these topographical features, Europa is one of the smoothest bodies in the solar system, largely in part due to its high level of tectonic activity. Europa is thought to house a sub-surface ocean and is thought to be one of the best candidates in the solar system for hosting extra terrestrial life.
For a larger image, see: http://whillyard.com/