Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

June 9, 1998
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Ice Cusps on Europa
Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Europa's icy crust has many unusual features. Pictured above is part of Europa's southern hemisphere photographed by the Galileo spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter. Europa is one of the largest moons of Jupiter, and is thought to have oceans of water underneath its ice-covered surface. Among many cracks and ridges appear dark cusp-shaped features running from the lower left toward the upper right. The origin of these features is not known for sure, but their shape is thought to indicate that large portions of Europa's crust move together, similar to tectonic motion of our Earth's crust.

Tomorrow's picture: First Light

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.