National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Multimedia
Freckled Europa
Freckled Europa (click to enlarge)
 
 

Freckled Europa
Date: 31 May 1998

In this view, which combines images and data taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft during two different orbits around Jupiter, we see reddish spots and shallow pits peppered across the ridged Europan surface.


The dark spots are called "lenticulae," the Latin term for freckles. Their similar sizes and spacing suggest that Europa's icy shell may be churning away like a lava lamp, with warmer ice moving upward from the bottom of the ice shell while colder ice near the surface sinks downward. Other evidence has shown that Europa likely has a deep melted ocean under its icy shell. Ruddy ice erupting onto the surface to form the lenticulae may hold clues to the composition of the ocean and whether if it could support life.


What Scientists/Engineers Say About This Image:


"Since water is a clue to habitability, water at Europa is so important. It has really become such a key observation."


--Robert Pappalardo: Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory


"Europa and the brown streaks -- what was that brown gunk? That was the big deal and that is one of the reasons why we want to go back to Europa."


--Fran Bagenal: Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder and Co-Investigator for the New Horizons Mission


(Read More of what Fran Bagenal has to say about this and other significant events by clicking here.)


Last Update: 2 Mar 2012 (AMB)

Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Colorado



Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 2 Mar 2012