The Earth Institute's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Earth Science Colloquium presents "The Geology of Europa: Exploring a Potentially Habitable Ocean World"
" Robert Pappalardo, Senior Research Scientist and Europa Study Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Open to the public.
Abstract: Galileo spacecraft data suggest that a global ocean exists beneath
the frozen ice surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Magnetometry data indicates an
induced magnetic field at Europa, implying that a salt-water ocean exists
today. A paucity of large craters argues for a surface on average only ~40–90
Myr, and two multi-ring structures suggest impacts punched through an ice shell
~20 km thick. Europa’s ocean and surface are inherently linked through tidal
deformation of the floating ice shell, and tidal flexing and nonsynchronous
rotation may generate stresses that fracture and deform the surface to create
ridges and bands. Dark spots, domes, and chaos terrain are probably related to
tidally driven ice convection, along with partial melting within the ice shell.
Europa’s geological activity and probable direct contact between its ocean and
rocky mantle may permit the chemical ingredients for life to be present within
the ocean. Fascinating geology and geophysics, combined with high
astrobiological potential, make Europa a top priority for future spacecraft
exploration. The Europa Clipper is a
mission concept currently being studied by NASA, which would make multiple
flybys of Europa from Jupiter orbit, to investigate its potential habitability.
Host: Roger Buck, Lamont Research Professor, Marine Geology and Geophysics, LDEO.
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