This high resolution image shows the ice-rich crust of Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. Seen here are crustal plates ranging up to 13 kilometers (8 miles) across, which have been broken apart and "rafted" into new positions, superficially resembling the disruption of pack-ice on polar seas during spring thaws on Earth. The size and geometry of these features suggest that motion was enabled by ice-crusted water or soft ice close to the surface at the time of disruption.
The area shown is about 34 kilometers by 42 kilometers (21 miles by 26 miles), centered at 9.4 degrees north latitude, 274 degrees west longitude, and the resolution is 54 meters (59 yards). This picture was taken by the Solid State Imaging system on board the Galileo spacecraft on February 20, 1997, from a distance of 5,340 kilometers (3,320 miles) during the spacecraft's close flyby of Europa.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, manages the
mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington D.C. This image and
other images and data received from Galileo are posted on the World Wide Web
Galileo mission home page at: http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov.
Galileo Europa 6 Orbit
January 2, 1998
Europa's Disconnected Surface
Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA
Explanation: Jupiter's moon Europa is so exciting that the Galileo spacecraft orbiting Jupiter has now embarked on an extended mission to study it. Oceans that might exist beneath Europa's surface are thought to be one of the best places to look for life in our Solar System. The Galileo Europa Mission has planned eight close fly-bys frozen moon. The first close encounter of this extended mission occurred last December and the next will occur in February. The above enhanced color picture shows a small region of Europa's Conamara region. The white and blue colors highlight regions covered by ice dust from the collision that created the Pwyll Crater. Disconnected islands of ice are visible that have apparently rafted to new positions.