Possibilities Of Living On Jupiter’s Moon Europa Explored

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, with 60 or more moons and a great amount of liquid hydrogen surrounding it. Although difficult, living on Jupiter is not exactly impossible. There is a great possibility that a human being would be crushed because of the gravity, but one of its moons, the icy Europa, could potentially be a human-friendly planet and a possible home for life.

Europa belongs to the Galilean moons of Jupiter, together with the other moons discovered by the scientist Galileo Galilei. It is the smallest of the others (Io, Ganymede and Callisto), and is frozen, mostly covered with a layer of ice, thus making it one of the most reflective objects in our solar system.

Many believe that Europa has a rocky mantle and an iron core similar to our planet Earth, as well as an icy surface that hides a vast water ocean beneath it. Futhermore, in 2014, it was found out that Europa may have plate tectonics. Until this discovery, Earth was the only planet previously known to have a dynamic crust, which is helpful to life evolution.

If Europa does indeed have all these features, this would make the moon the best alternative location for life in our solar system. It also has a magnetic shield to protect its surface from the deadly radiation coming from Jupiter, in addition to a thin layer of atmosphere – although far too weak to retain the oxygen needed by humans to breathe.

The gravity of Europa is 13% that of the Earth, with temperature ranges from -160 degrees Celsius (-260 degrees Fahrenheit) when near the equator and -220 degrees Celsius (-370 degrees Fahrenheit) when closer to the poles. One day in Europa is also only 9 hours and 4 minutes in Earth hours and its orbital period is 4.6 years in Earth days.

Now, a proposed mission by NASA called Europa Clipper Mission will give more detailed images of the moon’s surface to determine whether or not it has the necessary ingredients to sustain life. The current photos of Europa show that it has a smooth surface, and is lacking craters and mountains; cracks that are visible on its surface are also due to the tidal forces coming from the planet.