Astronomy Picture of the Day
January 29, 2014

Features of Europa
Features of Europa

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Galileo Project - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

This image, taken by the NASA - Galileo Spacecraft on February, 2, 1999, shows us huge Cracks and Ridges on the Surface of the Jovian moon Europa. These (absolutely fascinating) Features reveal a complex Geologic History of Europa. Some Ridges, such as the prominent one, at the top right of the frame, develop into several long, arc-shaped "Cycloids" (---> a Cycloid is the curve traced by a point on the rim of a circular wheel as the wheel rolls along a straight line), that could reasonably be related to the changing Tidal Forces as Europa orbits the Gas-Giant Planet Jupiter. The Wall of this Ridge stands perhaps a third of a mile (approx. 0,5 Km) above the surrounding Ridged Plains, although their Edges are - likely - NOT as steep as they appear in this view.

The view was captured by the NASA - Galileo Spacecraft on February 2, 1999, during its E19 orbit, when the spacecraft was about 2500 miles (such as approx. 4023 km) from the Surface of Europa. The Resolution in the scene is roughly 295 feet (such as approx. 89.91 meters) per pixel. North is toward bottom left side of the picture.

This frame (which is a crop taken from an Original NASA - Galileo Spacecraft enhanced color image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17737) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the Surface details and then re-colorized, according to an educated guess carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF, in what they should be its Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Galileo Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Surface of the Jovian moon Europa), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among others, the existence of different Elements present on the Surface of Europa, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of Europa- as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, a little bit lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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