High-Resolution Image of Europa's Ridged Plains
This spectacular image taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft camera shows a region of ridged plains on Jupiter's moon Europa. The plains are comprised of many parallel and cross-cutting ridges, commonly in pairs. The majority of the region is of very bright, but darker material is seen primarily in valleys between ridges. Some of the most prominent ridges have dark deposits along their margins and in their central valleys. Some of this dark material probably moved down the flanks of the ridges and has piled up along their bases. The most prominent ridges are less than a mile (about a kilometer) in width. In the top right hand corner of the image the end of a dark wide ridge (about 1.2 miles or 2 kilometers across) is visible. Several deep fractures cut through this ridge and continue into the plains. The brightness of the region suggests that frost covers much of Europa's surface. This image looks different from those obtained earlier in Galileo's mission, because this image was taken with the Sun higher in Europa's sky.
This image was taken on Dec.16, 1997 at a range of 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) by Galileo's solid state imaging system. North is to the top of the picture, and the Sun illuminates the surface from the upper left. This image, centered at approximately 14 degrees south latitude and 194 degrees west longitude, covers an area approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers) on each side. The resolution is 85 feet (26 meters) per picture element.