Europa, smallest and brightest of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons Voyager 1, March 1979

Europa, smallest and brightest of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons Voyager 1, March 1979


Vintage chromogenic print, 20.3 x 25.4 cm

[NASA 79-HC-84], caption on verso

[Caption] This picture of Europa, the smallest Galilean satellite, was taken in the afternoon of March 4, 1979, from a distance of about 2 million kilometres (1.2 million miles) by Voyager 1. This face of Europa is centred at about the 300 degrees meridian. The resolution of this picture of Europa is about the best that will be obtained by Voyager 1, but the second spacecraft will take much clearer photographs of this satellite in July. The bright areas are probably ice deposits while the darkened areas may be the rocky surfaces or areas with a more patchy distribution of ice. The most unusual features are the systems of long linear structures which cross the surface in various directions. Some of these linear structures are over a thousand kilometres long and about two or three hundred kilometres wide. They may be fractures or faults which have disrupted the surface.

NASA launched the two Voyager spacecraft to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the late summer of 1977. Voyager 1's closest approach to Jupiter occurred March 5, 1979. Voyager 2's closest approach was July 9, 1979. Discovery of active volcanism on the satellite Io was probably the greatest surprise. It was the first time active volcanoes had been seen on another body in the solar system. It appears that activity on Io affects the entire Jovian system. Io appears to be the primary source of matter that pervades the Jovian magnetosphere, the region of space that surrounds the planet, primarily influenced by the planet's strong magnetic field. Sulphur, oxygen, and sodium, apparently erupted by Io's volcanoes and sputtered off the surface by impact of high-energy particles, were detected at the outer edge of the magnetosphere.

Condition: mint

About the Voyager missions here and watch the probe's distance from Earth increase (and occasionally decrease!) in real time here


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