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The Big Picture: our clearest view yet of Europa, Jupiter's icy moon

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 24, 2014
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It's going to be a long, long time before anyone gets to see Jupiter's moon Europa first-hand, but NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory just provided the next best thing. It has released a "remastered" image of the icy celestial body that shows what it would look like to the naked eye. NASA's Galileo probe snapped the original photo mosaic (using near-infrared, green and violet filters) back in the 1990s, but they've been put through modern image processing techniques that simulate visible light wavelengths.

This view also shows why scientists are so eager to explore Europa's surface. Those blue and white parts? They're oceans of relatively pure water ice, where scientists hope to find evidence of simple organisms; this is likely humanity's best shot at discovering alien life without traveling to other stars. While it'll take years for any probe to get to this Jovian moon, it could easily be worth the trip.

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