Others have a jumbled or rough texture. [132], In 2011, a Europa mission was recommended by the U.S. Planetary Science Decadal Survey. [72][73], The thin-ice model suggests that Europa's ice shell may be only a few kilometers thick. In the early 2000s, Jupiter Europa Orbiter led by NASA and the Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter led by the ESA were proposed together as an Outer Planet Flagship Mission to Jupiter's icy moons called Europa Jupiter System Mission, with a planned launch in 2020. © 26. [146] At that time, there was competition from other proposals. [104][105], In May 2018, astronomers provided supporting evidence of water plume activity on Europa, based on an updated critical analysis of data obtained from the Galileo space probe, which orbited Jupiter between 1995 and 2003. Heavily influenced by the Atlantic Gulf Stream current Western Europe's sea temperatures remain higher than might be expected. [79], Another hypothesis for the colored regions is that they are composed of abiotic organic compounds collectively called tholins. For example, Io's volcanism was traced in part to interaction of Io with the moons, as well as with massive Jupiter. The moon has an iron-rich core with a radius of about 205 miles (330 km). At the time, the Catholic Church supported the idea that everything orbited the Earth, an idea supported in ancient times by Aristotle and Ptolemy. [29] In much of the earlier astronomical literature, Europa is simply referred to by its Roman numeral designation as Jupiter II (a system also introduced by Galileo) or as the "second satellite of Jupiter". [66][67], Scientists' consensus is that a layer of liquid water exists beneath Europa's surface, and that heat from tidal flexing allows the subsurface ocean to remain liquid. [78] In either case, because 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. Current Time: Apr 11, 2021 at 2:27:29 am: Moon Direction: ↑ 18° North Moon Altitude: -53.6° Moon Distance: 249,437 mi: Next New Moon: Apr 12, 2021, 4:30 am Galileo Galilei discovered Europa on Jan. 8, 1610. Galileo (orbited Jupiter between 1995-2003). [49], The radiation level at the surface of Europa is equivalent to a dose of about 5400 mSv (540 rem) per day,[50] an amount of radiation that would cause severe illness or death in human beings exposed for a single day. Alternatively, it could exist clinging to the lower surface of Europa's ice layer, much like algae and bacteria in Earth's polar regions, or float freely in Europa's ocean. Scientists are almost certain that hidden beneath the icy surface of Europa is a salty-water ocean thought to contain twice as much water as Earth’s oceans combined. [65], Work published by researchers from Williams College suggests that chaos terrain may represent sites where impacting comets penetrated through the ice crust and into an underlying ocean. In fact, recent studies have given new life to the theory that Europa can support life. Callisto is the 8th moon in distance from Jupiter and takes 17 days to make one complete orbit of the planet. [90] Depending on the amount of tilt, the heat generated by the ocean flow could be 100 to thousands of times greater than the heat generated by the flexing of Europa's rocky core in response to gravitational pull from Jupiter and the other moons circling that planet. Several spacecraft have done flybys of Europa (including Pioneers 10 and 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2 in the 1970s). April 11, 1960: 'Project Ozma' begins search for alien life, Over a third of Antarctic ice shelf could collapse as climate change warms the Earth, Hubble telescope captures striking image of a dying galaxy, NASA delays Mars helicopter Ingenuity's 1st flight to April 14. [23] NASA's planned Europa Clipper should be launched in 2025. [60] The smooth, dark spots could be formed by meltwater released when the warm ice breaks through the surface. This could make its probable ocean friendlier for life — and the moon may not need to rely on tidal heating to generate enough energy. [162] In 2015, scientists announced that salt from a subsurface ocean may likely be coating some geological features on Europa, suggesting that the ocean is interacting with the seafloor. Everest. That distance comes with a freezing average temperature of about -285℉. Mars has an atmosphere that is 100 times thinner than the atmosphere of Earth. This passed too far away from Europa to get a detailed picture, but the mission did note some variations in albedo (brightness) on the moon's surface. This orbiter featured a special ice-penetrating radar that would allow it to scan below the surface. These “extremophile” life for… 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. New York, Scientists estimate that Europa's surface is about 20 million to 180 million years old, which makes it fairly young. It is also the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System. Due to its orbit being further away from Jupiter it is not under the same tidal heating influences as Io, Europa or Ganymede. Age: Europa is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old, about the same age of Jupiter. 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. The image, taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, shows the full disk of Europa, highly distorted by the relative motion of Europa and the spacecraft, centered on longitude 190 degrees, with north at the top. Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may erupt with fleeting plumes of water more than 20 times the height of Mt. Since then, NASA has been working toward a mission to Jupiter's icy moon. Galileo made these sketches after discovering four moons orbiting Jupiter in January 1610. Latest updates about Europa atmosphere, water, facts, ocean, europa life and other topics covering Colonization of Europa deep-ocean hydrothermal vents. [165] Life on Europa could exist clustered around hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, or below the ocean floor, where endoliths are known to inhabit on Earth. That's almost twice as far out as Jupiter. In 2013, the U.S. National Research Council's Planetary Science Decadal Review issued its 10-year recommendation for NASA's planetary exploration program. On 13 January 2014, the House Appropriations Committee announced a new bipartisan bill that includes $80 million funding to continue the Europa mission concept studies.[136][137]. [24], Europa, along with Jupiter's three other large moons, Io, Ganymede, and Callisto, was discovered by Galileo Galilei on 8 January 1610,[1] and possibly independently by Simon Marius. It is a long way from the Sun—more than five times farther than the distance between Earth and the Sun. Europa has a diameter of 3,100 kilometers or 1,900 miles. Evidence suggests the existence of lakes of liquid water entirely encased in Europa's icy outer shell and distinct from a liquid ocean thought to exist farther down beneath the ice shell. The first reported observation of Io and Europa was made by Galileo on 7 January 1610 using a 20×-magnification refracting telescope at the University of Padua. Size: Europa is 1,900 miles (3,100 km) in diameter, making it smaller than Earth's moon, but larger than Pluto. The implication is that the ice is too thin to support the convective diapir model of feature formation. A more realistic comparison requires spectra obtained at temperatures similar to those found on the icy moon. The many orbiters and rovers that have been studying Mars have found that there might have once been a lot of water on the Red Planet. Such plume activity could help researchers in a search for life from the subsurface Europan ocean without having to land on the moon. [14] The predominant model suggests that heat from tidal flexing causes the ocean to remain liquid and drives ice movement similar to plate tectonics, absorbing chemicals from the surface into the ocean below. On the surface, the average daytime temperature of the moon ranges between -113 and -183 degrees Celsius or -171 and -297 degrees Fahrenheit. Europa. One of Europa Clipper's priorities will be to follow up on the Hubble observations of plumes. [76] 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. Cracks in the crust are due to the tidal forces of Jupiter’s mighty gravity. The icy depths of the moons are thought to contain vents to the mantle much as oceans on Earth do. On Europa, it would take a jack hammer! [29] [16] However, the physics driving these plate tectonics are not likely to resemble those driving terrestrial plate tectonics, as the forces resisting potential Earth-like plate motions in Europa's crust are significantly stronger than the forces that could drive them. There was a problem. A “Europa-in-a-can” laboratory setup at NASA-JPL mimics conditions of temperature, near vacuum and heavy radiation on the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon. The left image shows Europa in approximately true color and the right image shows Europa in enhanced color to bring out details. [169] The presence of the minerals may have been the result of a collision with an asteroid or comet. It wasn't until later that Galileo realized they were two separate bodies. Europa was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei and was named after Europa, the Phoenician mother of King Minos of Crete and lover of Zeus (the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter). Pictures and data from the Galileo spacecraft suggest Europa is made of silicate rock, and has an iron core and rocky mantle, much like Earth does. the year is always the same as the host planets. Close examination shows that the edges of Europa's crust on either side of the cracks have moved relative to each other. The European Space Agency also plans a mission to Europa and two other moons called JUICE, or JUpiter ICy moons Explorer. [62][63], In November 2011, a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere presented evidence in the journal Nature suggesting that many "chaos terrain" features on Europa sit atop vast lakes of liquid water. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech Moon to Mars; Earth; Space Tech; Flight; Solar System and Beyond; STEM Engagement; History ; Benefits to You; All Topics A-Z; Missions. the day on any moon is how long it takes to orbit its host planet. [151] It would travel with the orbiter, which would also function as a communication relay to Earth. In 2016, a study suggested that Europa produces 10 times more oxygen than hydrogen, which is similar to Earth. [83][84][85], The presence of sodium chloride in the internal ocean has been suggested by a 450 nm absorption feature, characteristic of irradiated NaCl crystals, that has been spotted in HST observations of the chaos regions, presumed to be areas of recent subsurface upwelling. Galileo flew by Europa in 1997 within 206 km (128 mi) of the moon's surface and the researchers suggest it may have flown through a water plume. [77] Sulfuric acid hydrate is another possible explanation for the contaminant observed spectroscopically. In addition to tidal heating, the interior of Europa could also be heated by the decay of radioactive material (radiogenic heating) within the rocky mantle. Such additional heat would have allowed the ocean to remain liquid for a longer time. 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 estimated that the outer crust of solid ice is approximately 10–30 km (6–19 mi) thick,[70] including a ductile "warm ice" layer, which could mean that the liquid ocean underneath may be about 100 km (60 mi) deep. However, only the youngest of Europa's fractures conform to the predicted pattern; other fractures appear to occur at increasingly different orientations the older they are. The prominent crater in the lower right is, Periapsis is derived from the semimajor axis (, Apoapsis is derived from the semimajor axis (. As telescopic observations improved, however, a new view of the universe emerged. [17][163] The likely presence of liquid water in contact with Europa's rocky mantle has spurred calls to send a probe there. [19][20][21][22] Such plume activity could help researchers in a search for life from the subsurface Europan ocean without having to land on the moon. Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope spotted a possible water plume jetting from Europa's south polar region in 2012. AccuWeather has local and international weather forecasts from the most accurate weather forecasting technology featuring up to the minute weather reports Visit our corporate site. But it wasn't until the 19th century that the moons were officially given the so-called Galilean names we know them by today. Exploration of Europa was ranked as the highest-priority mission. It takes Europa three and a half Earth-days to orbit Jupiter. Even the sea in Iceland rarely freezes with most sea ice here having drifted from further afield. NASA Scientists Confirm Water Vapor on Europa. [35], Europa is slightly smaller than the Moon. 1 decade ago. Please refresh the page and try again. The reason for this is that the direction of the spin pole may change by as much as a few degrees per day, completing one precession period over several months. Slightly smaller than Earth's Moon, Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and has a water-ice crust[13] and probably an iron–nickel core. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute. [38] This layer is likely to be a salty liquid-water ocean. [15][16] Sea salt from a subsurface ocean may be coating some geological features on Europa, suggesting that the ocean is interacting with the sea floor. As Europa moves slightly away from Jupiter, Jupiter's gravitational force decreases, causing Europa to relax back into a more spherical shape, and creating tides in its ocean. The pressure generated by migrating briny water pockets would thus, eventually, burst through the crust thereby creating these plumes. The most familiar weather in the solar system is actually on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Europa is tidally locked, so the same side faces Jupiter at all times. In 1892, the discovery of Amalthea, whose orbit lay closer to Jupiter than those of the Galilean moons, pushed Europa to the third position. Description. It is also the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System. Because of the peculiar thermophysical properties of water, however, the temperature of the ocean beneath the ice shell may not simply equal the melting temperature of ice. Europa has a tenuous atmosphere that is mostly oxygen and contains traces of water and hydrogen; the surface pressure of the atmosphere is about 100 billion times less than that of Earth’s. Except at its volcanic hot spots, Io's surface temperature is well below freezing. This is an incredibly small amount for the moon which is just slightly less than the size of Earth’s Moon. Many believe these cracks are the result of tidal forces on the ocean beneath the surface. Galileo imaging team members argue for the existence of a subsurface ocean from analysis of Voyager and Galileo images. These various fractures are thought to have been caused in large part by the tidal flexing exerted by Jupiter. Of Jupiter's 16 known satellites, Europa is sixth in proximity and is Jupiter's fourth largest — slightly smaller than Earth's Moon. [42] However, according to one study, Europa's equator may be covered in icy spikes called penitentes, which may be up to 15 meters high, due to direct overhead sunlight on the equator, causing the ice to sublime, forming vertical cracks. "Galileo Spacecraft Finds Europa has Atmosphere", The Journey to Jupiter: Extended Tours – GEM and the Millennium Mission, "Projects: Europa Mission Campaign; Campaign Update: 2007 Budget Proposal", "Lean U.S. missions to Mars, Jupiter moon recommended", "NASA gets some funding for Mars 2020 rover in federal spending bill", "JPL's Mars 2020 rover benefits from spending bill", "NASA's Europa Mission Begins with Selection of Science Instruments", "Future spacecraft landing on Jupiter's moon Europa may have to navigate jagged blades of ice", "Jagged ice spikes cover Jupiter's moon Europa, study suggests", "Small RPS-Enabled Europa Lander Mission", "NASA and ESA Prioritize Outer Planet Missions", "Planetary protection for a Europa surface sample return: The Ice Clipper mission", Abelson & Shirley – Small RPS-Enabled Europa Lander Mission (2005), "Latest Galileo Data Further Suggest Europa Has Liquid Ocean", "Alternative energy sources could support life on Europa", "Bacterial explanation for Europa's rosy glow", "Europa's Ocean May Have An Earthlike Chemical Balance", "NASA Aiming for Multiple Missions to Jupiter Moon Europa", NASA – Mapping the Chemistry Needed for Life at Europa, "Clay-Like Minerals Found on Icy Crust of Europa", "Life Could Have Hitched a Ride to Outer Planet Moons", Preventing Forward Contamination of Europa, Images of Europa at JPL's Planetary Photojournal, Paul Schenk's 3D images and flyover videos of Europa and other outer Solar System satellites, Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, Gauss's Pythagorean right triangle proposal, Potential cultural impact of extraterrestrial contact, List of microorganisms tested in outer space, Search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), Habitability of K-type main-sequence star systems, Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability, Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets, European Astrobiology Network Association, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Europa_(moon)&oldid=1014196524, CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2021, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing explicitly cited English-language text, Wikipedia articles with WorldCat-VIAF identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 25 March 2021, at 18:29. With surface temperatures as cold as minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, Europa's surface is covered with a … This "neutral cloud" has been detected by both the Cassini and Galileo spacecraft, and has a greater content (number of atoms and molecules) than the neutral cloud surrounding Jupiter's inner moon Io. Europa is the sixth moon in distance from the planet Jupiter and the fourth largest. The only other moon in the Solar System exhibiting water vapor plumes is Enceladus. This could be explained if Europa's surface rotates slightly faster than its interior, an effect that is possible due to the subsurface ocean mechanically decoupling Europa's surface from its rocky mantle and the effects of Jupiter's gravity tugging on Europa's outer ice crust. Both NASA and the European Space Agency plan missions to Europa and other moons that would leave Earth in the 2020s. [18][100][101] It has been suggested that if they exist, they are episodic[102] and likely to appear when Europa is at its farthest point from Jupiter, in agreement with tidal force modeling predictions. From fluctuations in Europa's magnetic field that suggests a conductor of some sort, scientists also think there is an ocean deep beneath the surface of the moon. In a press release from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory referencing the study, these suggested sources for Europa's plumes would potentially be less hospitable to life. Schaber (1982) "Geology of Europa", in David Morrison, ed., Schenk, Paul M.; Chapman, Clark R.; Zahnle, Kevin; and Moore, Jeffrey M. (2004), Ringwald, Frederick A. ). She decorated the "bull" with flowers and rode on its back to Crete. Evidence suggests that hydrogen peroxide is abundant across much of the surface of Europa. [28], The names fell out of favor for a considerable time and were not revived in general use until the mid-20th century. Current Time: Apr 11, 2021 at 2:36:23 am: Moon Direction: ↑ 21° Northeast Moon Altitude: -53.0° Moon Distance: 249,446 mi: Next New Moon: Apr 12, 2021, 4:30 am Instruments aboard the space probe Galileo measured infrared energy emitted by volcanic hot spots on the satellite's surface. Voyager 1 (1979 flyby of Jupiter system). The naming scheme was suggested by Simon Marius, who apparently discovered the four satellites independently, though Galileo alleged that Marius had plagiarized him… Water Vapor Was Just Found on Europa, More Evidence There's Liquid Water Beneath All that Ice. Europa has its own atmosphere, although it is very, very thin. [96], The Hubble Space Telescope acquired an image of Europa in 2012 that was interpreted to be a plume of water vapour erupting from near its south pole. That's because the moon's temperature hovers around 86 to 130 Kelvin, or about –300 to –225 °F. Its most famous discovery at Europa was finding strong evidence of an ocean beneath the icy crust at the moon's surface. Current Time: Apr 11, 2021 at 2:27:29 am: Moon Direction: ↑ 18° North Moon Altitude: -53.6° Moon Distance: 249,437 mi: Next New Moon: Apr 12, 2021, 4:30 am Models such as this suggest the outer elastic portion of the ice crust could be as thin as 200 metres (660 ft). Jupiter's Moon, Io. The dome tops look like pieces of the older plains around them, suggesting that the domes formed when the plains were pushed up from below. [92][93] Their results indicate that most of the heat generated by the ice actually comes from the ice's crystalline structure (lattice) as a result of deformation, and not friction between the ice grains. … Europa may be the most promising place in our solar system to find present-day environments suitable for some form of life beyond Earth. Distance from Jupiter: Europa is Jupiter's sixth satellite. The moon’s ice shell is probably 10 to 15 miles (15 to 25 kilometers) thick, beneath which the ocean is estimated to be 40 to 100 miles (60 to 150 kilometers) deep. In 2017, the mission was officially called Europa Clipper after several years of the researchers and media informally using the moniker. However, most planetary scientists conclude that this model considers only those topmost layers of Europa's crust that behave elastically when affected by Jupiter's tides. The most interesting feature of Europa, Jupiter’s sixth moon, is the incredibly smooth surface with relatively few craters. Europa, the fourth-largest moon of Jupiter, is a subject in both science fiction and scientific speculation for future human colonization.Europa's geophysical features, including a possible subglacial water ocean, make it a possibility that human life could be sustained on or beneath the surface. [9], The slight eccentricity of Europa's orbit, maintained by the gravitational disturbances from the other Galileans, causes Europa's sub-Jovian point to oscillate around a mean position. Its orbit is nearly circular. The larger bands are more than 20 km (12 mi) across, often with dark, diffuse outer edges, regular striations, and a central band of lighter material. We can usually crack our Earth's winter ice with an ice pick. [43][44][45] Although the imaging available from the Galileo orbiter does not have the resolution needed to confirm this, radar and thermal data are consistent with this interpretation. The gravity of each moon tugs slightly on the other moons, and because of the orbital resonance, the tugs occur repeatedly in the same part of each moon’s orbit. [86], Tidal heating occurs through the tidal friction and tidal flexing processes caused by tidal acceleration: orbital and rotational energy are dissipated as heat in the core of the moon, the internal ocean, and the ice crust. At the poles of the moon, the temperature never rises above minus 370 F (minus 220 C). [88][89], Tidal flexing kneads Europa's interior and ice shell, which becomes a source of heat. The satellite’s surface is very bright and the smoothest of any known solid … Europa is icy cold. [31][47] This indicates a young and active surface: based on estimates of the frequency of cometary bombardment that Europa experiences, the surface is about 20 to 180 million years old. This is circumstantial evidence for a subsurface ocean. Early in the life of the solar system, the icy bodies may have delivered organic material to the moon. Jupiter's moon Io is 778 million kilometers from the Sun. Europa: Jupiter's Moon. [59], Other features present on Europa are circular and elliptical lenticulae (Latin for "freckles"). [61], An alternative hypothesis suggest that lenticulae are actually small areas of chaos and that the claimed pits, spots and domes are artefacts resulting from over-interpretation of early, low-resolution Galileo images. They are planet-sized, ranging from slightly smaller than the Earth's Moon (in the case of Europa) to larger than the planet Mercury (in the case of Ganymede). [12] In 1997, the Galileo spacecraft confirmed the presence of a tenuous ionosphere (an upper-atmospheric layer of charged particles) around Europa created by solar radiation and energetic particles from Jupiter's magnetosphere,[117][118] providing evidence of an atmosphere. [51] Note: above calculations were made for a day on Earth (24h). [166] If Europa's ocean is too cold, biological processes similar to those known on Earth could not take place. Starting in 1995, the Galileo space probe orbited Jupiter for eight years, until 2003, and provided the most detailed examination of the Galilean moons to date. Its ice layer must stretch to accommodate these changes. Eddie. Die Temperatur auf Europas Oberfläche beträgt nur 110 K (etwa −160 °C) am Äquator und 50 K (etwa −220 °C) an den Polen. However, it has not yet been determined when this hypothesized shift in the spin axis might have occurred. However, he did not publish his observations, so it is Galileo who is most often credited with the discovery. In addition to Earth-bound telescope observations, Europa has been examined by a succession of space-probe flybys, the first occurring in the early 1970s. [114][115][116] The surface pressure of Europa's atmosphere is 0.1 μPa, or 10−12 times that of the Earth. [64][65] These lakes would be entirely encased in Europa's icy outer shell and distinct from a liquid ocean thought to exist farther down beneath the ice shell. [42], More ambitious ideas have been put forward including an impactor in combination with a thermal drill to search for biosignatures that might be frozen in the shallow subsurface. Bringing the spacecraft in and out of the zone will extend its lifetime and make it easier to transmit data back to Earth. Like all the Galilean satellites, Europa is named after a lover of Zeus, the Greek counterpart of Jupiter, in this case Europa, daughter of the king of Tyre. … [11] 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). Europa Moon Jupiter smallest moon Europa facts, water, ocean, life. The apparent youth and smoothness of the surface have led to the hypothesis that a water ocean exists beneath the surface, which could conceivably harbor extraterrestrial life. This suggests an asymmetry in internal mass distribution and that a layer of subsurface liquid separates the icy crust from the rocky interior. [17] In addition, the Hubble Space Telescope detected water vapor plumes similar to those observed on Saturn's moon Enceladus, which are thought to be caused by erupting cryogeysers. Europa Clipper (proposed for 2020s). When there is too much stress, it cracks. All of Jupiter's moons are named for the god's lovers (or victims, depending on your point of view). A full revolution of the outer rigid shell relative to the interior of Europa takes at least 12,000 years. Note that all surface temperatures stay below a chilly 96 K (–177°C). [158] This suggested approach has not yet reached a formal conceptual planning stage. [39] Europa probably contains a metallic iron core. The discovery not only had astronomical, but also religious implications. [36] Its bulk density suggests that it is similar in composition to the terrestrial planets, being primarily composed of silicate rock. - Articles from The Weather Channel | weather.com New evidence for liquid water on Europa (NASA, november 2011) Arkiveret 20. november 2011 hos Wayback Machine; Cold, Dark and Alive! [32] Research suggests that the tidal locking may not be full, as a non-synchronous rotation has been proposed: Europa spins faster than it orbits, or at least did so in the past. Distance from the sun: On average, Europa's distance from the sun is about 485 million miles (or 780 million kilometers). It has a very thin atmosphere, composed primarily of oxygen. That increases the gravitational pull on Europa, and distorts its shape. Europa is the fourth-largest moon of Jupiter. "If the plumes' existence is confirmed, and they're linked to a subsurface ocean, studying their composition would help scientists investigate the chemical makeup of Europa's potentially habitable environment while minimizing the need to drill through layers of ice," NASA said in a statement. On Europa, it would take a jack hammer! The moon’s ice shell is probably 10 to 15 miles (15 to 25 kilometers) thick, beneath w… On Europa, which is around the same size as Earth's moon, temperatures range from as high as about 140 Kelvin (about -210 degrees Fahrenheit) at the moon… If life exists on the moon, it may have gotten a kick from deposits from comets.