Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons that was discovered by Galileo in 1610, is of special interest to astronomers because it’s believed to have a deep ocean under its frozen surface with conditions favorable for life.
This newly ‘remastered’ NASA image of Europa shows the satellite’s geology in high-definition detail.
And unlike a similar previously released image—that used artificially enhanced colors—this new photo depicts Europa virtually the way the human eye would see it.
This detailed photo is based on actual pictures taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the 1990s.
Near-infrared, green, and violet filters were combined to create this realistic image. Gaps in the original image have been filled by NASA, using surrounding terrain and colors.
The cracks that can be seen are due to broken ice that has refrozen in different patterns, creating the criss-crossed ridges.
“Color variations across the surface are associated with differences in geologic feature type and location. For example, areas that appear blue or white contain relatively pure water ice, while reddish and brownish areas include non-ice components in higher concentrations.
“The polar regions, visible at the left and right of this view, are noticeably bluer than the more equatorial latitudes, which look more white. This color variation is thought to be due to differences in ice grain size in the two locations.”
– Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, NASA