Europa - Europa By Marisa Myers "Europa is a unique...

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Europa By Marisa Myers “Europa is a unique moon of Jupiter that has fascinated scientists for hundreds of years.” (Hamilton, 1997). Its surface is among the brightest in the solar system, a consequence of sunlight reflecting off a relatively young icy crust. Its face is also among the smoothest, lacking the heavily cratered appearance characteristic of Callisto and Ganymede. Lines and cracks wrap the exterior as if a child had scribbled around it. Europa may be internally active, and its crust may have, or had in the past, liquid water which can harbor life. (Hamilton, 1997) Europa is the sixth moon of the planet Jupiter, and the smallest of its four Galilean satellites. Europa was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei and named after a mythical Phoenician noblewoman, Europa, who was courted by Zeus and became the queen of Crete. It is roughly the size of Earth's Moon; Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and likely has an iron core. It has a tenuous atmosphere
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composed primarily of oxygen. Its surface is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System. This surface is striated by cracks and streaks, while craters are relatively infrequent. The apparent youth and smoothness of the surface have led to the hypothesis that a water ocean exists beneath it, which could conceivably serve as an abode for extraterrestrial life. This hypothesis proposes that heat energy from tidal flexing causes the ocean to remain liquid and drives geological activity. (Arnet, 2005) Europa orbits Jupiter in just over three and a half days, with an orbital radius of about 670,900 km. The orbit is nearly circular. Like the other Galilean satellites, Europa is tidally locked to Jupiter, with one hemisphere of the satellite constantly facing the planet. Europa's prime meridian intersects the north and south poles, and the equator at the sub-Jovian point. The slight eccentricity of Europa's orbit, maintained by the gravitational disturbances from the other Galileans, causes Europa's sub-Jovian point to oscillate about a mean position. As Europa comes slightly nearer to Jupiter, the
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2010 for the course CINS 20093 taught by Professor Cherylnagel during the Spring '10 term at Ivy Tech Community College.

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Europa - Europa By Marisa Myers "Europa is a unique...

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