Eclipse Phase: Acrimony
Europa is slightly smaller than Luna. At just over 3,100 kilometers (1,900 mi) in diameter. Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and has a water-ice crust and an iron–nickel core. It has a tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of oxygen. Its surface is striated by cracks and streaks, whereas craters are relatively rare. A layer of liquid water exists beneath Europa’s surface, and that heat from tidal flexing allows the subsurface ocean to remain liquid. Europa’s surface temperature averages about 110 K (−160 °C; −260 °F) at the equator and only 50 K (−220 °C; −370 °F) at the poles, keeping Europa’s icy crust as hard as granite. The radiation level at the surface of Europa is equivalent to a dose of about 5400 mSv (540 rem) per day, an amount of radiation that would cause severe illness or death in unprotected trashuman beings exposed for a single day.
Europa orbits Jupiter in just over three and a half days, with an orbital radius of about 670,900 km. The orbit itself is nearly circular and like its fellow Galilean satellites, Europa is tidally locked to Jupiter, with one hemisphere of Europa constantly facing Jupiter. Because of this, there is a sub-Jovian point on Europa’s surface, from which Jupiter would appear to hang directly overhead.
Europa’s icy crust is 30 Kilometer deep; underneath is a 100 (160,000 meters) mile deep salt water ocean. Europa’s global ocean is cold, with water temperatures ranging from 5 to 15 C, and the ocean is devoid of sunlight. At the sea ﬂoor itself, hydrostatic pressure ranges from 2,000 to 2,500 atmospheres. Pressure near the surface is roughly the same as that of earths oceans despite the lower gravity, about 15,750 lb pressure per square inch.
The orders of life present here vary greatly in their life cycles and physiology from those on Earth, but are broadly analogous to bacteria, protozoans, fungi, and animals. The ecological niches occupied by plants on Earth are ﬁlled by a combination of fungi and lithoderms (coral and sponge analogs). Microscopic lithoderms, analogous to Earth’s coral species, had formed vast mountains and forests of Europan coral throughout the depths. These lithoderms in turn acted as hosts for a form of lichen that grew on the lower reaches of the coral stacks towards the ocean ﬂoor. Many of the animal-analog ﬁsh have an immature stage in which they resemble fungi before metamorphosing into free-swimming adults.
Europa is one of the smoothest objects in the Solar System, due to the lack of large-scale features, such as mountains or craters. However; on a smaller scale, Europa’s equator is covered in 10-meter tall icy spikes called penitentes, which are caused by the effect of direct overhead sunlight on the equator, melting vertical cracks. The prominent markings crisscrossing Europa appear to mainly be albedo features that emphasize low topography. There are few craters on Europa, because its surface is tectonically too active and therefore young.
Other features present on Europa are circular and elliptical lenticulae (Latin for “freckles”). Many are domes, some are pits and some are smooth, dark spots. Others have a jumbled or rough texture. The dome tops look like pieces of the older plains around them, suggesting that the domes formed when the plains were pushed up from below.
These lenticulae were formed by diapirs of warm ice rising up through the colder ice of the outer crust, much like magma chambers in Earth’s crust. The smooth, dark spots are formed by meltwater released when the warm ice breaks through the surface. The rough, jumbled lenticulae (called regions of “chaos”) would then be formed from many small fragments of crust, embedded in hummocky, dark material, appearing like icebergs in a frozen sea. The “chaos” regions on Europa are primarily named after places in Celtic mythology.
Europa is a parliamentary democracy independent of the Jovian Republic, contrary to what the Jovians would have people believe. The Europan Parliament is a multi-party unicameral parliament elected every four years by all registered Europan transhumans over the age of 17. The 120-seat Parliament is based in the Conamara habitat, the capital of the Europan state. A number of other polities and hyper corps operate here in a old west style melting pot. The Europan parliment doesn’t mind what they are up to most of the time as long as they play nice with each other. The antagonism that normally exists between the various polities of the solar system is set aside in the spirit of begrudging co-operation, much like how government operated in the north and south poles on earth.
The Jovian Republic levies taxes on all shipments approaching Europa and has occasionally imposed an interdiction when they claim the taxes have not been paid in full—a situation the Europan Parliament has labeled a “protection racket.”
Law Enforcement/Defense/Gun Laws:
Law enforcement is mostly handled on a local level by sheriffs and deputies with larger police forces at the more cosmopolitan big cities. Most hyper corps employ private security to protect their assets. The Europan Defense Force (EDF) handles matters of state security and acts as Europa’s standing military. They have no space fleet but do control a number of surface defense facilities capable of striking craft in orbit. The EDF also patrols the sub glacial ocean with a fleet of submersibles.
Weapon laws are fairly lax in regards to most things used in the sub glacial ocean as there are many deadly predators that prowl the waters. Magnetically propelled harpoon guns and electrical discharge weapons take the place of assault rifles and beam weapons in the ocean. In standard oxygen atmosphere habitats where a punctured bulkhead could spell doom for the inhabitants, anything with armor piercing capability is strictly forbidden.
Europa operates on a transitional economy where both credits and rep count. Credits determine an individuals level of wealth while their rep determines what goods are available to them.
Much of Europas exports lie in oceanic knowledge which they lend to scientific collectives. The planets unique abundance of life draws the scientific interest of polities through out the solar system which for a modest price are allowed to pursue their interests within the sub glacial ocean. Furthermore Europas isolation makes it possible for certain hyper corps to pursue research away from the prying eyes of their governments and competitors. In addition Europa also cultivates and exports foods that only grow within the ocean depths.
Living on Europa:
Europa’s transhuman population of 1.5 million lives below the ice, safe from Jupiter’s deadly radiation bombardment. The majority of Europa’s population lives in bubble warrens, huge spherical excavations in the lower depths of the ice crust. Many of these bubble warrens have populations that have outgrown their original infrastructure and are now considered a sort of “old world” compared to the newer “icicle” habitats, huge protrusions of ice jutting from the crust into the cold ocean below. These icicles are hollowed out, often with an accessway to the surface, powered with fusion reactors or large wave turbines that harness Europa’s internal convection, and then transformed into living spaces, laboratories, farms, communal areas, entertainment districts, and more. Icicle habitats offer residents spectacular views out into the Europan ocean’s upper reaches, with the habitat lighting illuminating the ocean and the ice sheet directly above. Other habitats are completely synthetic and rugged enough to withstand anything the Europan ocean can throw at them. These “ﬁshhook” habitats are named for the way they are tethered with heavy cables to the inner surface and deployed into the lightless depths like a hook on a ﬁshing line.
Most Europan habitats are split between areas that are pressurized for traditional air-breathing operations and water-ﬁlled compartments pressurized to match the depth of the habitat. Biomorphs on Europa come in many ﬂavors, but the most common are aquanauts that have been adapted to Europan pressures and can transition between the two habitat types without too much difﬁculty. Other common anthroform morphs are the selkie and mustelid, containing heavy splices of seal and sea otter traits, respectively. Europan dolphin and orca morphs, with their numerous modifications, are also popular, though more limited. Features common to all Europan morphs include ﬁns or ﬂukes, gills or oxygenating respiratory fauna, enhanced digestive systems, adaptability to immense pressure, and resistance to dive-related hazards such as the bends.
Transhumans that really prefer the freedom and mobility to explore the Europan depths, however, opt for cetus synthmorphs, capable of handling the extreme depths and frigid temperatures with ease. Deeper habitats are almost entirely hydrohabitats, pressurized at the same level as the surrounding ocean. These deep habitats are generally mobile research installations, studying the ocean’s icy bottom. Only a fraction of Europa’s ocean ﬂoor has been mapped.
The primary food producers for Europa are the barnacle-like ﬁshing and farming havens that cluster around the very tops of the lithodermic reefs that characterize Europa’s ocean. These barnacle habitats are prefabricated in the larger Conamara or Pwyll warrens and are assembled in place on the target reef. Europan dishes are culturally similar to Japanese, but with a distinct and unique ﬂavor all their own. The Europan razor eel is considered a delicacy in places as far away as the Venusian aerostats, and the failure to culture the razor eel outside the Europan oceans has driven demand for the oily ﬁsh.
Perceptive visitors to the moon will notice a scattering of small geodesic dome habitats on the outer surface of Europa. The majority of these are the futile attempt by the Jovian Republic to establish a presence here, and many have been abandoned due to poor radiation shielding, lack of resupply, or both. The largest surface facilities, and the ones that get noticed, are the elevator heads at Conamara Chaos and further south at the Pwyll crater.
Prior to the Fall, a small group of polar scientists and oceanographers—mainly from Russia, Japan, Peru, and Indonesia—were the first to establish a permanent presence on Europa at the site of the Conamara elevator head. Colonization was encouraged by the governments of those nations as a way of relieving internal population pressures and making their mark on the solar system. After the Fall, Europa took in a number of infugees and refugees, transforming the moon into a melting pot of cultures.
Most Europan citizens are either directly involved in or know someone involved in ocean sciences. Since the Fall, watery moons like Europa (and to a lesser extent, Ceres and Enceladus) have been the only locations in the solar system where oceanography is practiced. The vast majority of oceanographers that accompany gatecrashing missions were either Earth-educated or educated at a Europan institution of higher learning. Europans pride themselves on their schooling and reject the Jovian notion that only a privileged few should receive the full beneﬁts of a higher education. All Europans are strongly encouraged to enter an institution of higher learning at the age of majority; collegiate and graduate studies are socialized and free.
The most popular sport on Europa is a form of aquatic orienteering in which participants must navigate their way through an increasingly difficult course plotted out amongst the lithodermic reefs. There are different morph classes, with the most popular and most widely televised, being the octomorph class. The most successful aquatic orienteers have gone on to prominent media positions in Europan society and politics. Amongst those who reside in air-breathing habitats, ice hockey is still very popular. The Europan Hockey League, once a minor hockey organization, is the largest ice hockey league in the solar system.
The Europan people do not live in fear of the Jovian Republic, a fact that irritates the Jovian leadership to no end. A number of terrorist acts during the last parliamentary election, seemingly designed to disrupt the voting process, had the reverse effect and instead steeled the resolve of the Europans to stand up to the Jovian Republic. In this regard, they are journeying down the path already taken by the city-state of Hyoden on Callisto.