‘Jupiter’s magnetic field is fragilising its moon Europa’

– Arnaud Sacleux, National Geographic headline, 2019

Europa, a satellite of Jupiter, is covered by an ocean buried beneath an enormous shell of ice. Its surface is magnificent, like hammered pewter, striated with lines, bumpy with domes and pierced by geysers. Jupiter’s fluctuating magnetic field creates tides that threaten the physical cohesion of Europa. Its surface is fissuring, and plumes of water shoot out into space. It is cold on Europa but this water, this core, well protected from solar radiation, strongly suggests the possibility of life: both for us, as a Planet B, and for the moon itself. These creatures on Europa might resemble those that live in the depths of our terrestrial oceans, in the sulphurous frigidity of night.

The very large planet and the tiny little satellite make me think of the immensity of the death drive and the stubbornness of the life drive. There is a Europe of life and a Europe of death, on the mass graves of which we perpetuate a dream. A Europe of bloodstained snow, and a Europe of sublime forests, valleys and cities.

On Being French and Chinese