Europa is the sixth of Jupiter's known moons and the fourth largest; and is slightly smaller than the Earth's Moon, with a diameter of 1,350 miles.
Galileo Galilee and Simon Marius discovered the moon in 1610.
The moon Europa comes from the beautiful Phoenician princess that Zeus saw gathering flowers and fell in love with. Zeus then transformed himself into a white bull and carried Europa away to the island of Crete. He then revealed himself to her and she became the first queen of Crete. Zeus later created the shape of the white bull to show his love in the stars which is now known as the constellation of Taurus.
Europa has fascinated scientists for for years because it it the brightest moon on the Solar System, which is because of sunlight reflecting of it ice covered surface, question whether the moon could have harbored life in the past. This originally was not known until the 1950’s when Astronomer Gerard Kuiper discovered that its crust was indeed covered with ice. In the 1970s , NASA’s Pioneer and Voyager fly-by missions verified this analysis.
In an image taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft taken June 27, 1996, the moons shows in some areas that the crust resembles ice flows like those that are seen in the Earth's polar seas.
The Voyager 2 mission showed the terrain was smooth with a near absence of any impact craters, with only three craters larger than approximately 3 miles in diameter, that have been found so far.
Europa has a metallic iron, nickel core, and this core is surrounded by a rock shell The rock layer is then surrounded by a shell of water in ice or liquid form. Some of the images from the Galileo spacecraft imply that a liquid water ocean might now be underneath the icy surface.
For now, Icepick: the Europa Ocean Explorer project, is attempting to generate a design for a future mission to Europa. The mission would explore the liquid water oceans that possibly exist beneath its surface.