US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The surface of the moon of Jupiter of Europe has a very diverse landscape, including mountain ranges, stripes, small rounded domes and a ruined surface, which geologists call the “territory of chaos.” Three recently processed images taken by NASA‘s Galileo spacecraft (10/18/1989 – 09/21/2003) in the late 1990s reveal details of the diverse surface features in Europe.
Although the data obtained by Galileo are more than two decades old, scientists use modern image processing methods to create new surface maps. All this is carried out in preparation for the flight of the new Clipper spacecraft. The orbiter will spend a lot of time over Europe to learn more about the oceans under the thick ice crust of the moon and how it interacts with the surface. The mission, which should begin in the next few years, will be the first return to Europe since the time of Galileo.
“We saw only a very small part of the surface of Europe in this high resolution. The Clipper will increase the number of shots several times, ”said planetary geologist Cynthia Phillips of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. As a project researcher, she leads a long-term research project to reanalyze moon images.
All images were taken at the same longitude of Europe, on which Galileo flew on September 26, 1998, at the eighth of 11 planned turns of the spacecraft over Europe. High-resolution images showing objects as small as 460 meters across were shot through a grayscale transparent filter (black and white). Using low-resolution color images of the same area from another span, technicians recreated the colors in the higher-resolution image – this is a painstaking process.
Similar images with improved colors allow scientists to highlight geological objects in different colors. Such images do not show Europe as it seems to the human eye, but exaggerate color variations, emphasizing the various chemical compositions of the surface. Areas that appear blue or white are composed of relatively pure water ice, and in reddish areas there are no longer ice materials such as salts.
Planet scientists are studying high-resolution images of Europe to understand how the surface formed. The average age of the surface that we see today is from 40 to 90 million years, which is much younger than Europe itself, which formed together with the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. In fact, Europe has one of the youngest surfaces in the solar system, which is one of its oddities.
It is believed that the long, linear ridges and stripes that cross the surface of Europe are related to the reaction of the icy surface crust of Europe when it is stretched and attracted by the strong gravity of Jupiter. Ridges can form when a crack on the surface is repeatedly opened and closed, creating objects several hundred meters high, several kilometers wide, and extending thousands of kilometers long.
Areas of so-called chaos territory contain blocks that moved sideways, rotated or tilted before freezing again in their new places. To understand how they could form, scientists study these blocks as if they were mixed pieces of a puzzle.
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