Europa might have much more shallow liquid water than researchers believed

Europa’s frozen surfacearea is covered with distinct sets of ridges that straddle troughs of ice. These double ridges are the most typical functions on the Jovian moon. But researchers puton’t yet have a clear concept of how the curiosity are produced.

Now, an analysis of images of a comparable set of ridges on Greenland’s ice sheet recommends that reasonably shallow water within Europa’s thick icy shell might be behind their development, researchers report April 19 in Nature Communications. If so, that might suggest that Europa has much more shallow liquid water than researchers haveactually believed.

Europa’s double ridge systems, which can stretch for hundreds of kilometers, consistof some of the earliest includes on the moon, states Riley Culberg, a geophysicist at Stanford University. Some scientists haveactually proposed that the bending of the moon’s icy shell due to tides in an underlying liquid water ocean plays a function in the ridges’ development (SN: 8/6/20). Yet others have recommended that water appeared from deep within the icy moon — a procedure understood as cryovolcanism — to develop the ridges. Without a closer look, though, it’s been difficult to nail down a more strong description.

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But Culberg and his associates appear to haveactually captured a break. Data collected by NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite in March 2016 revealed an 800-meter-long double ridge system in northwestern Greenland. So the group looked back at other images to see when the ridge system veryfirst appeared and to evaluate how it grew. The scientists discovered that the ridges appeared in images taken as early as July 2013 and are still there today.

When the ridges — which lie on either side of a trough, like those on Europa — reached complete size, they balanced just 2.1 meters high. That’s a lot smallersized than the ridges on Europa, which can increase 300 meters or more from the moon’s surfacearea. But surfacearea gravity is much lower on Europa, so ridges can grow much bigger there, Culberg states. When he and his coworkers thoughtabout the distinction inbetween Earth’s gravity and Europa’s in their computations, they discovered that the percentages of the 2 ridge systems are constant.

a double ridge imagined on the surfacearea of EuropaEuropa might have much more shallow liquid water than researchers believed.

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