Europa under stress

Europa under stress

. When viewed at high resolution, many sets of parallel and crosscutting ridges and fractures are detected on Jupiter’s moon Europa. These features are the frozen remnants of surface tension and compression, probably produced by heating and upwelling from below. The icy crust has also been broken into plates or “rafts”, ranging up to 13 kilometers across, which have separated and moved into new positions, somewhat like pack ice in the Earth’s polar seas. Soft ice or liquid water below the surface most likely lubricated the moving ice rafts on Europa at the time of disruption. This image, approximately 42 kilometers across, was taken from the Galileo spacecraft on 20 February 1999. (Courtesy of NASA and JPL.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University