This image, taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, shows a same-scale comparison between Arbela Sulcus on Jupiter's moon Ganymede (left) and an unnamed band on another Jovian moon, Europa (right). Arbela Sulcus is one of the smoothest lanes of bright terrain identified on Ganymede, and shows very subtle striations along its length. Arbela contrasts markedly from the surrounding heavily cratered dark terrain.
On Europa, dark bands have formed by tectonic crustal spreading and renewal. Bands have sliced through and completely separated pre-existing features in the surrounding bright ridged plains. The scarcity of craters on Europa illustrates the relative youth of its surface compared to Ganymede's.
Unusual for Ganymede, it is possible that Arbela Sulcus has formed by complete separation of Ganymede's icy crust, like bands on Europa. Prominent fractures on either side of Arbela appear to have been offset by about 65 kilometers (about 40 miles) along the length of the area of furrows and ridges, suggesting that strike-slip faulting was important in the formation of Arbela Sulcus.
In the Ganymede image, north is to the upper left of the picture and the Sun illuminates the surface from the west. The image, centered at -14degrees latitude and 347 degrees longitude, covers an area approximately 258 by 116 kilometers (160 by 72 miles.) The resolution is 133 meters(436 feet) per picture element. The images were taken on May 20, 2000, at a range of 13,100 kilometers (8,100 miles).
In the Europa image, north is to the left of the picture and the Sun illuminates the surface from the east. The image, centered at -7 degrees latitude and 236 degrees longitude, covers an area approximately 275 by 424 kilometers (171 by 263 miles.) The resolution is 220 meters (about 720 feet) per picture element (re-sampled here to 133 meters, or 436 feet). The images were taken on Nov. 6, 1997, at a range of 21,500 kilometers (13,360 miles).
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Galileo mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Images and data received from Galileo are posted on the Galileo mission home page at http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/galileo/. Background information and educational context for the images can be found at http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/galileo/gallery/index.cfm.
Images were produced by Brown University, Providence, R.I., http://www.planetary.brown.edu/, DLR (German Aerospace Center) Berlin, http://www.dlr.de/pf/, and University of Arizona, Tempe, http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/.