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Old 11-14-2010, 09:28 PM
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Pa'li Makto
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Default Solar System : Europa

Hey all.

And here comes Europa one frozen moon of Jupiter.


Europa like Europe got its name from Ευρώπη [Phoenician princess in Greek Mythology ]. It is the 4th largest moon of Jupiter and the 4th of the Galilean Satellites of Jupiter [ the first ones discovered by Galileo, obv. ]

Europa is a frozen world. It has no atmosphere and its surface consists mainly of Water Ice. Scientists believe that below this ice, which is about 30 miles thick, lies a huge ocean of water. Recent magnetic field data from the Galileo orbiter showed that Europa has an induced magnetic field through interaction with Jupiter's, which suggests the presence of a subsurface conductive layer. The layer is likely a salty liquid water ocean.

There seems to be hope of Europa being populated by water creatures under its thick layer of ice which for now, has not been breached.

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Here is what Wikipedia says on the Ocean Matter :

Most planetary scientists believe that a layer of liquid water exists beneath Europa's surface, kept warm by tidally generated heat. The heating by radioactive decay, which is almost the same as in Earth (per kg of rock), cannot provide necessary heating in Europa because the volume-to-surface ratio is much lower due to the moon's smaller size. Europa's surface temperature averages about 110 K (−160 °C; −260 °F) at the equator and only 50 K (−220 °C; −370 °F) at the poles, keeping Europa's icy crust as hard as granite. The first hints of a subsurface ocean came from theoretical considerations of tidal heating (a consequence of Europa's slightly eccentric orbit and orbital resonance with the other Galilean moons). Galileo imaging team members argue for the existence of a subsurface ocean from analysis of Voyager and Galileo images. The most dramatic example is "chaos terrain", a common feature on Europa's surface that some interpret as a region where the subsurface ocean has melted through the icy crust. This interpretation is extremely controversial. Most geologists who have studied Europa favor what is commonly called the "thick ice" model, in which the ocean has rarely, if ever, directly interacted with the present surface. The different models for the estimation of the ice shell thickness give values between a few kilometers and tens of kilometres

The best evidence for the thick ice model is a study of Europa's large craters. The largest impact structures are surrounded by concentric rings and appear to be filled with relatively flat, fresh ice; based on this and on the calculated amount of heat generated by Europan tides, it is predicted that the outer crust of solid ice is approximately 10–30 km (6–19 mi) thick, including a ductile "warm ice" layer, which could mean that the liquid ocean underneath may be about 100 km (60 mi) deep. This leads to a volume of Europa's oceans of 3 × 1018 m3, slightly more than two times the volume of Earth's oceans.

The thin ice model suggests that Europa's ice shell may be only a few kilometers thick. However, most planetary scientists conclude that this model considers only those topmost layers of Europa's crust which behave elastically when affected by Jupiter's tides. One example is flexure analysis, in which the moon's crust is modeled as a plane or sphere weighted and flexed by a heavy load. Models such as this suggest the outer elastic portion of the ice crust could be as thin as 200 metres (660 ft). If the ice shell of Europa is really only a few kilometers thick, this "thin ice" model would mean that regular contact of the liquid interior with the surface could occur through open ridges, causing the formation of areas of chaotic terrain.

In late 2008, it was suggested Jupiter may keep Europa's oceans warm by generating large planetary tidal waves on the moon because of its small but non-zero obliquity. This previously unconsidered kind of tidal force generates so-called Rossby waves that travel quite slowly, at just a few kilometers per day, but can generate significant kinetic energy. For the current axial tilt estimate of 0.1 degree, the resonance from Rossby waves would store 7.3 × 1017 J of kinetic energy, which is two hundred times larger than that of the flow excited by the dominant tidal forces. Dissipation of this energy could be the principal heat source of Europa's ocean.

The Galileo orbiter found that Europa has a weak magnetic moment, which is induced by the varying part of the Jovian magnetic field. The field strength at the magnetic equator (about 120 nT) created by this magnetic moment is about one-sixth the strength of Ganymede's field and six times the value of Callisto's. The existence of the induced moment requires a layer of a highly electrically conductive material in the moon's interior. The most plausible candidate for this role is a large subsurface ocean of liquid sal****er. Spectrographic evidence suggests that the dark, reddish streaks and features on Europa's surface may be rich in salts such as magnesium sulfate, deposited by evaporating water that emerged from within. Sulfuric acid hydrate is another possible explanation for the contaminant observed spectroscopically. In either case, since these materials are colorless or white when pure, some other material must also be present to account for the reddish color, and sulfur compounds are suspected.

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And finally some pictures

Europa's Underground layers :



And Its Surface



Thanks for Reading
R-D-A

Sources : Wikipedia and some personal knowledge.

EDIT : BTW here is a nice video I picked up concerning the aforementioned






To be honest the beginning reminds me of the opening of AVATAR over Pandora
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Last edited by R-D-A; 11-15-2010 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 11-14-2010, 09:49 PM
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Thanks for posting. Interesting read. It would be interesting to think that if there are sea creatures in the ocean. How long have then been there? How big and how smart are they.
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Old 11-14-2010, 10:35 PM
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Yeah, it would be the most groundbreaking event in human history if we found life on Europa. We'd finally have the answer to that age old question.

You know, this really does go to show how plentiful life probably is in the universe. As far as things go we are a pretty average solar system, and within we have 3 planets with the possibility of life, one we know has life on it (duh. ), and two at extreme ends of the habitable zone which might have had, might possibly have one day, or do have life on them. In addition we have two moons that have the possibility of life as well. Five places where life could be, all within ONE system.

IMO the universe is teeming with life.

Now, if only we could redirect our energy away from petty squabbling, to finding a way to finally visit these worlds.
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Last edited by Tsyal Makto; 11-15-2010 at 02:47 AM.
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Old 11-14-2010, 11:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsyal Makto View Post
IMO the universe is teeming with life.

Now, if only we could redirect our energy away from petty squabbling, to finding a way to finally visit these worlds.
Agreed.
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:51 PM
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Yes finding life on other worlds could truly change they way we view our world. Perhaps even generate greater respect for it. I am definitely looking forward to any news from NA.S.A. or E.S.A.
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:51 PM
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Interesting.
We spend so much effort looking for life in other systems that we don't even think about where it could be within this one.
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