The entire surface of Europa is almost completely covered with a solid sheet of ice. It was discovered, in 2010, by the crew of the ill-fated Chinese spacecraft Tsien, who reported that there was life beneath the ice, living in a previously undiscovered sub-surface ocean.
In the year 1999, the Tycho Monolith, or TMA-1, awakened after a 3 million year stasis, sent a single very powerful radio emission directly to the Jupiter System. The American spacecraft, Discovery One, commissioned by Dr. Heywood Floyd, was sent to Jupiter to investigate. Unfortunately, the on-board AI unit, the HAL 9000, malfunctioned en route to Jupiter, and murdered all of the crew except for commander David Bowman, who managed to disconnect HAL for the remainder of the flight. Upon arrival at Jupiter, Bowman parked Discovery at the L1 point between Jupiter and Io, where he had found a second, much larger monolith (TMA-2). Going to investigate in an EVA pod, the monolith opened and transformed Bowman into the "Starchild", an entity of pure energy.
2010: Odyssey TwoEdit
After the disappearance of Bowman, the Soviet Union sent the joint Soviet-American spacecraft, the Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, to investigate the mysterious happenings in the Jupiter System. On the way to Jupiter, the crew of the Leonov discovered the existence of the Chinese spacecraft Tsein, which would arrive at Jupiter weeks ahead of Leonov.Tsein entered Jovian orbit shortly before landing on Europa, the first manned attempt to do so. During their stay, unfortunately, a Europan creature broke through the ice, inadvertently crippling the craft, and killing all but one of the crew. The remaining survivor managed to send a transmission to Dr. Floyd on board the Leonov before his life support failed.
Towards the end of Leonov's stay at Jupiter, TMA-2 disappeared into the Jovian atmosphere and began replicating itself. Eventually, they compressed the atmosphere to the point that sustained nuclear fusion was possible, and Jupiter was transformed into a mini-sun.
Shortly before the eminent destruction of Discovery and the HAL 9000, Dave Bowman, as the Starchild, ordered Hal to relay a message to the crew of the Leonov, and to the rest of the world. The message was as follows: ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS--EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE. (The film added "USE THEM TOGETHER. USE THEM IN PEACE.")With this new heat source, the moons of Jupiter, Europa especially, began to terraform themselves.
2061: Odyssey ThreeEdit
The spacecraft Galaxy, crewed by Dr. Floyd's grandson, is hijacked and crash-landed on Europa, stranded afloat in a large ocean.
Galaxy's sister ship, Universe, a luxury cruise spaceship, crewed by 103 year-old Heywood Floyd, then on Halley's Comet, responds to the distress calls, and swiftly begins flight to Europa to help.
While on Europa, Galaxy discovers the existence of a semi-intelligent race, their evolution sped up by a third monolith, identical to TMA-2, except that it's lying on its side. It is possible that these two monoliths were the same, but it was never proven.
The crew of Galaxy also confirmed a rather outlandish hypothesis set about a large, semi-translucent mountain, named Mt. Zeus, that seemed to have sprung up overnight: the entire mountain was indeed one giant diamond, forged deep in the core of Jupiter. During the creation of Lucifer, the diamond was blasted off, and hit Europa. The crew guessed that there must be vast amounts of diamonds in orbit around Lucifer, as remnants of the explosion. Mt. Zeus eventually sank down below the crust of Europa.
3001: The Final Odyssey Edit
In the early thirty-first century, the monoliths received orders from their home planet to block out all natural light from the sun and Lucifer from reaching mankind, via the creation of large conglomerate discs placed in front of the star, creating a permanent eclipse. The reason for this was to allow the evolution of the Europans to more fully take place, without interference from the human race.
Fortunately for mankind, with the aid of "Halman", the combined entity of Dr. Bowman and the HAL 9000, stored within the mechanisms of the monoliths, resurrected Frank Poole unleashed a computer virus into the monoliths, destroying the remaining monoliths (the Europa monolith, TMA-1 and TMA-0), removing their presence from our solar system permanently.
Only two species from Europa are ever described in detail. The first of these was a part-plant-part-snake creature. When the vessel Tsien crashed on Europa, one member of this species, hoping to use the vessel's warmth to procreate, came up from the ocean beneath, and proceeded to wrap itself around the circle of light being cast from a single lamp which was still intact after the crash. The reproduction was described as looking like flowers were budding out of the creature, and then falling off to become butterfly-shaped amphibious larvae.
The second, semi-sentient species, was described as looking like a three-legged coral bush. They were relatively simple beings that only began to form any advanced tools after the destruction of the monoliths in 3001 AD. It is known that by 20,001 AD, these creatures had developed a fairly sophisticated culture and religion, and were just beginning to become a truly scientific race.