Europa is thought to be one of the most likely planets to have extraterrestrial life. NASA will launch a probe to study the icy Ganymede in the future, but in the meantime, it will be able to take first look at old images taken by the 1998 Galileo spacecraft. On Thursday, NASA released three newly reprocessed Galileo images highlighting Ganymede’s “chaotic terrain.”
The space agency re-examined earlier images in preparation for sending Europa Clipper stomp. The Clippers are expected to launch as early as 2023.
NASA processed the images to enhance color and make landscape features more prominent. “What appears to be light blue or white areas is made up of relatively pure water ice, while the reder areas have more non-iced substances, such as salts,” the agency said. “
Scientists are curious about how Europa’s relatively young surface formed. “The area of the so-called chaotic terrain contains blocks that move, rotate, or tilt sideways before being refrozen to a new location,” NASA said. “
The Galileo mission ended in 2003 when the spacecraft dived into Jupiter’s atmosphere. And in the future, the Clippers will be looking for signs that Ganymede may have some form of life.