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Double Ridges, Dark Spots, and Smooth Icy Plains on Europa
Double Ridges, Dark Spots, and Smooth Icy Plains on Europa (click to enlarge)

Double Ridges, Dark Spots, and Smooth Icy Plains on Europa
Date: 31 May 1998

This mosaic of a region in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter's moon, Europa, displays many of the features which are typical on the satellite's icy surface. Brown, linear (double) ridges extend prominently across the scene. They could be frozen remnants of cryovolcanic activity which occurred when water or partly molten water ice erupted on the Europan surface, freezing almost instantly in the extremely low temperatures so far from our sun. Dark spots, several kilometers in diameter, are distributed over the surface. A geologically older, smoother surface, bluish in tone, underlies the ridge system. The blue surface is composed of almost pure water ice, whereas the composition of the dark, brownish spots and ridges is not certain. One possibility is that they contain evaporites such as mineral salts in a matrix of high water content.

North is to the lower left of the picture and the sun illuminates the surface from the upper left. The image, centered at 40 degrees north latitude and 225 degrees west longitude, covers an area approximately 800 by 350 km (500 by 220 miles). The resolution is 230 m (250 yards) per picture element. The colors have been enhanced to bring out the details.

The images were obtained during two separate orbits of Jupiter by the Solid State Imaging (SSI) system on NASA's Galileo spacecraft. High resolution images obtained at a range of about 25,000 km (15,000 miles) during the spacecraft's 15th orbit of Jupiter on 31 May 1998 are combined with lower resolution images obtained during the spacecraft's first orbit of Jupiter on 28 June 1996. Combining the lower resolution and high resolution images enables scientists to investigate both the surface features in great detail as well as the color or compositional information in a regional context.

Last Update: 18 Jan 2012 (AMB)

Credit: NASA/JPL

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Last Updated: 18 Jan 2012