True colour image of Europa. Credit NASA/JPL/DLR (Click image to enlarge)

Jupiter‘s fourth largest satellite, Europa, is a frozen world with a surface of water ice covered in distinctive reddish-brown striations.

As one of the four Galilean moons, discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610, it can be easily seen with just a small telescope as a point of light orbiting Jupiter.

Europa’s interior is heated by strong tidal forces due to its proximity to Jupiter, leading to speculation that it could hide a liquid subsurface ocean, which might even be warm enough for life to have developed.

Astronomy, Cosmology, Space and Astrophysics