Europa Moon Facts

Europa is the sixth of Jupiter’s moons and is 414,000 mi/670,900 km from Jupiter.

Europa Moon Profile

Discovered By:Galileo Galilei January 8, 1610
Diameter:3,121.6 km
Mass:4.80 x 10^22 kg (65.2% Moon)
Orbit Distance:671,100 km
Orbit Period:3.55 days
Surface Temperature:-171 °C

It is a moon that is referred to as being “tidally locked,” which means, like our on moon, only one side faces its parent planet all of the time.

Who discovered the Europa Moon

Europa was officially discovered in 1610 by the Italian astronomer, Galileo Galilea, however, it is possible that it was discovered at the same time by German astronomer Simon Marius.

The discovery of the Jovian moons was important because it changed the way humanity thought of the solar system.

Previously it was believed that the sun and all celestial bodies orbited around the Earth. Galileo’s discovery proved that planets and their moons orbited around the Sun.

Who is it named after

The moon Europa is named after the Greek mythological character that was the daughter of the King of Tyre, whom the Greek god Zeus fell in love with and eventually became the queen of Crete.

Europa is the smallest of Jupiter’s moons, smaller than our own moon and just a bit larger than Pluto.

Cold on the Moon

The surface temperature near the equator of Europa never gets above -260 degrees F/-160 C. Although the surface is always covered with a layer of frozen ice, scientists believe that there may be liquid water below the surface.

The ice is what gives Europa the distinction of being one of our solar system’s most reflective.

An incredible discovery was made in 2012 by the Hubble Space Telescope what it spotted potential water jet plumes rising from Europa’s south pole area.

These plumes were seen again in 2014 and 2016, suggesting that there is liquid water inside of Europa.

There have been numerous spacecraft flybys over Europa and there are future plans for missions to both Europa and some of Jupiter’s other moons.

Some of the missions have intentions of looking to see if there are any organic compounds on Europa.

Facts about Europa Moon

  • In the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Jupiter becomes our solar systems second sun and Europa is the only planet that humans aren’t allowed to land on because of the potential for new life. In reality, scientists think that Jupiter could have been a sun if it had a larger mass that would cause nuclear fusion.
  • It’s estimated that Europa is the same age as Jupiter, around 4.5 billion years old.
  • Europa’s surface is covered with colorful cracks and mounds. Scientists believe that it is geologically action, covering any impact crater evidence with new eruptions.
  • When the Galileo spacecraft did a flyby it discovered polygonal ice sheets that were broken into slabs and covered in a reddish material. Scientists call these areas “chaos terrain.”
  • Like many of Jupiter’s moons, Europa is also hit by high levels of radiation would kill a human in a single day making it uninhabitable for human beings.
  • Scientists believe that Europa creates ten times more oxygen than hydrogen in its oceans. Since this is comparable to Earth, it is hoped that the chemical reactions may make Europa a good candidate for potential life.
  • Europa has the smoothest surface of any known celestial body in our solar system.
  • Although Europa is thought to be the same age as Jupiter, 4.5 billion years old, the constant changing on its surface makes the surface only 20-180 million years old.
  • Scientists have “done the math,” and if Europa does have water below its surface it would contain two times as much water as found on Earth.
  • One day on Europa is equal to 3.5 Earth days.
  • Europa does have a weak oxygen atmosphere and this is mainly due to the sun’s charged particles hitting the surface water molecules. While the hydrogen escapes, the oxygen remains.
  • Europa is part of what is called the Galilean moons, which are the 4 largest of all of Jupiter’s moons.
  • Europa is the smallest of the Galilean moons.
  • Galileo originally named the moons after the Medici family in Italy: the Medicean Planets, even though they were satellites.


  • What is Europa’s position within Jupiter’s 67 moons?
  • Why is Europa’s surface so smooth?
    constantly replenished with ice
  • If there is water below the surface of Europa how much is it when compared to Earth’s water content?
    2 times more
  • Could human inhabit Europa?
    no, radiation too high
  • What have scientists named the broken ice slabs with reddish coloring on the surface of Jupiter?
    chaos terrains
  • Who discovered Europa?
    Galileo Galilea
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