Europa: Does it have a sea harboring life?

Does Jupiter's moon Europa have an ocean below the icy surface capable of harboring life? join us to discuss this and uncover what astronomers know about this moon and our plans for future exploration.

Published by Tony Darnell on 8th Jun, 2017

Europa is an intriguing icy moon that orbits Jupiter. It is a little bit smaller than the Earth's moon but may have an ocean of water under an icy surface that may have a rocky sea floor. The surface of Europa has many fractures criss-crossing it.

It whips around Jupiter in about 3 1/2 days and has tides that stretch it due to the variation of Jupiter's gravity since Europa is in a slightly elliptical orbit. Observations of Europa have indicated there are "warmer" areas on its surface and observation with the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that there are salty water plumes venting occasionally near the southern portion of the body. All of these factors suggest that Europa might be an interesting place to look for life. Scientists would like to have a mission to explore Europa and land on the surface.

Join Tony Darnell and Carol Christian during Afternoon Astronomy Coffee on June 8, 2017 at 3PM Eastern (Daylight) Time as they discuss with Melissa McGrath (SETI) and collaborators about this intriguing moon, the possibility of life on it and studies that could lead to a NASA "Europa Express" mission.

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