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LDEO Earth Science Colloquium: The Geology of Europa: Exploring a Potentially Habitable Ocean World

Date:April 25, 2014 from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm EDT
Location:Columbia University
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Monell Building Auditorium
Contact:For further information regarding this event, please contact Andrew Juhl by sending email to .
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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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