Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

January 17, 1997
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Europa: The Latest From Galileo
Credit: The Galileo Project, JPL, NAS A

Explanation: Today, NASA revealed recent results from the Galileo Probe's December 19th flyby of Europa, Jupiter's ice-covered moon - including this close-up image of fractured and frozen terrrain. The highest resolution picture ever made of Europa, the snapshot shows a complex array of surface features in a 5.9 x 9.9 mile area near the moon's equatorial region. North is toward the top and the Sun illuminates the region from the right. The image was made from a distance of 2,060 miles. At the upper left are linear criss-crossing ridges and grooves probably caused by movements of the surface ice. Serpentine valleys and lumpy features of unknown origins are also visible. Only a few impact craters are apparent though, implying a geologically young surface. So far, Galileo's findings lend support to the exciting possibility that liquid water once existed and may still exist beneath Europa's surface.

Tomorrow's picture: M16: Nebula With Open Cluster

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.