Europa is the sixth-nearest and fourth-largest natural satellite of
the planet Jupiter. Europa was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei
(and independently by Simon Marius), and named for a mythical
Phoenician noblewoman, Europa, who was courted by Zeus. It is the
smallest of the four Galilean moons - slightly smaller than Earth's
Moon and is the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System. Europa has a
tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of molecular oxygen. Its surface
is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System.
This young surface is striated by cracks and streaks, while craters
are relatively infrequent. The apparent youth and smoothness of the
surface have led to the hypothesis that a water ocean exists beneath
it, which could conceivably serve as an abode for extraterrestrial
life. Although by 2007 only flyby missions have visited the moon, the
intriguing character of Europa has led to several ambitious
exploration proposals. The Galileo mission provided the bulk of
current data on Europa, while the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, canceled
in 2005, would have targeted Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Conjecture
on extraterrestrial life has ensured a high profile for the moon and
has led to steady lobbying for future missions.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
King Manfred of Sicily was killed at the Battle of Benevento,
fighting Angevin forces led by Charles of Anjou near Benevento, Italy.
Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba, a remote island off the coast
of Italy where he was exiled to after the signing of the Treaty of
Fontainebleau one year earlier.
In Daventry, England, Scottish engineer and inventor Robert
Watson-Watt first demonstrated the use of radar.
Nexus, the world's first web browser and WYSIWYG HTML editor, was
introduced by British computer programmer Tim Berners-Lee, the
inventor of the World Wide Web.
A bomb-laden van exploded in the underground garage of the World
Trade Center in New York City, killing six and injuring more than one
Wiktionary's Word of the day:
gelid: Very cold; icy or frosty.
Wikiquote of the day:
A man is not idle, because he is absorbed in thought.
There is a visible labour and there is an invisible labour.
-- Victor Hugo in Les Misérables