NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have released a new image of Europa today and it’s beautiful. Made from images taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s, the image below is the best look at what the icy moon looks like to the naked eye.
This new image gives us a fresh look at Europa’s unique geology. Long cracks and ridges stretch across the icy moon’s surface. The color of the ice also tells us about the differences in the moon’s surface. The blue and white portions (best seen on the right side of the image) are mostly pure water ice. The whiter areas are seen closer to the moon’s equator.
The red/brown areas have higher concentrations of what NASA calls “non-ice components.”
The blue concentrations, which I touched on above, are located near the moon’s polar regions. The north pole of Europa is actually on the right in the image above. Why the color difference? NASA officials believe the variation in color comes from differences in size of ice grains at the two polar regions.
Here’s a better look at Europa’s red/brown bands. This image was released back in July.
Galileo’s mission ended back in 2003, but you can read all about its discoveries and check out more images here.