Exploring Icy Europa

Europa, perhaps Jupiter's most famous lunar sidekick, is thought to be about as old as Jupiter itself—an estimated 4.5 billion years. Its discovery is credited to Galileo Galilei, who spotted the orb from afar on January 8, 1610. What Galileo likely didn't know however, was that centuries later NASA would explore Europa further, eventually observing its hard, icy surface. Through up-close photographs, researchers were able to determine Europa's surfaces was inundated with significant cracks. What's more—NASA scientists believe certain patterns of cracks and ridges show lines flowing into open areas.

These findings have led many to believe Europa's surface may very well hide a secret under its veil of ice: a world of oceans and water. Going further with that idea, some have suggested life may too be possible. Explore this playlist to get up close with Europa and decide for yourself: Is there life on Jupiter's moon?

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Generally speaking, where there is liquid water, there is life. 00:22

  2. The "Goldilocks Zone" refers to the area in our solar system that is the ideal distance from the sun to support life. 01:52

  3. Europa's orbit around Jupiter may provide mechanical energy that creates enough heat to keep its ocean liquid. 02:28

Written By Curiosity Staff February 19, 2015