Europa Glows: Radiation Does a Bright Number on Jupiter’s Moon

This illustration of Jupiter’s moon Europa shows how the icy surface may glow on its nightside, the side facing away from the Sun. Variations in the glow and the color of the glow itself could reveal information about the composition of ice on Europa’s surface. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

New lab experiments re-create the environment of Europa and find that the icy moon shines, even on its nightside. The effect is more than just a cool visual.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — As the icy, ocean-filled moon Europa  orbits Jupiter, it withstands a relentless pummeling of radiation. Jupiter zaps Europa’s surface night and day with electrons and other particles, bathing it in high-energy radiation. But as these particles pound the moon’s surface, they may also be doing something otherworldly: making Europa glow in the dark.

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NIAC Focus: Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope

General APERTURE concept, before and after deployment (write head moves along the curved arm, while the curved arm rotates about the center axis). (Credit: M. Ulmer)
General APERTURE concept, before and after deployment (write head moves along the curved arm, while the curved arm rotates about the center axis). (Credit: M. Ulmer)

Further Development of Aperture: A Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Melville Ulmer
Northwestern University

One of the pressing needs for space ultraviolet-visible astronomy is a design to allow larger mirrors than the James Webb Space Telescope primary. The diameter of the rocket fairing limits the mirror diameter such that all future missions calling for mirrors up to 16 m in diameter or larger will require a mirror that is deployed post-launch.

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