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This what Europa would look like to the human eye

Europa images

Over the years, there have been several images released showing us what Europa would look like, but none quite like this. NASA has released a new image highlighting what Jupiter’s moon of Europa would look like to the human eye.

Using modern processing techniques, NASA created a mosaic of images of the moon taken from missions from the 1990s. Previous images featured colors that were strongly enhanced, while this new image uses near-natural colors with only a modest enhancement. It is close to what a human would see orbiting the moon.

“Space imaging enthusiasts have produced their own versions of the view using the publicly available data, but NASA has not previously issued its own rendition using near-natural color,” Jet Propulsion Lab writes in an official statement captured by Discover News.

Jupiter’s moon Europa is one of the most attractive locations in the solar systems for scientists seeking signs of life beyond Earth. During the mid-90s, the Galileo mission found strong evidence that a salty ocean with a rocky seafloor is hidden under a layer of ice. Scientists believe that material cycled between the ocean and the ice shell could help to create the chemical energy necessary to create and sustain simple life forms.

Less than a year ago, NASA also confirmed the detection of “clay-like minerals” frequently associated with organic material. It also announced that water vapor plumes were detected on Europa.

The New Horizons spacecraft took a few images of Europa on its way to Pluto, but several missions are planned. NASA hopes to first flyby the moon and investigate potential future landing sites, while using radar that would penetrate the ice. Another proposed mission would orbit the moon and help to map Europa. The third mission would land on Europa and test for signs of life. NASA will present all missions to Congress and fight for a budget, then plan on sending a robotic mission to the moon in the mid-2020s.

The European Space Agency is also planning to send a spacecraft by Europa, although that mission is primarily focused on Ganymede. It is set for a 2022 launch.



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