Icy moon of Jupiter covered with sharp 15-meter spikes

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2018-10-10 01:30:08

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Icy moon of Jupiter covered with sharp 15-meter spikes

The Satellite of the gas giant Jupiter Europe is of great scientific interest. Under the icy crust of the moon is a vast ocean in which water can be even more than any earthly. Water availability is one of the indicators of the possible presence of life. Scientists have been looking to Europe and thinking about how to drop some research unit. But, apparently, will make it even more difficult than previously thought. According to the findings of a new study by planetary scientists published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the surface of Europe is covered with sharp ice spikes, which will significantly hinder the landing.

In the new work, scientists have modeled how on the surface of Europa are formed ice structures. The researchers argue that the satellite is covered with forest of the ice needles, which reaches a height of 15 meters. They are formed as a result of sublimation process in which ice turns directly into water vapor, bypassing the liquid phase. For their formation requires special conditions: a lot of light and very cold, dry environment with no air movement.

This training is, and on the Ground — they're called Calasparra or "penitent snow", and are found in dry and cold highlands of the Andes. Originally appearing unevenness on the surface of the ice work as a positive feedback — deepening turn out a little darker, more efficiently absorb light and melt faster, while the bulges remain bright and reflects most of the radiation. As a result, generated a high and thin ice elevation.

Small Calasparra in the Atacama desert (Mexico). On the surface of Europe there are similar structures, but they are much higher

According to the authors of the study, the conditions for the formation on the surface of Europa giant callaspo. First, the surface is a solid ice cap. Secondly, it is very cold (temperatures down to – 165 degrees Celsius). In combination with other factors, creates an ideal environment for sublimation.

Scientists say that directly Calasparra in Europe, they have not seen (the quality of the photos the surface of the satellite orbit is not enough for them to see), however, their presence telling circumstantial evidence.

Using previously collected observation data, the researchers calculated the level of sublimation in different regions of the surface of Europe, which allowed to establish the size and distribution of Kolhapur. Taking into account the various processes of erosion in Europe, such as the fall of small meteorites and radiation of charged particles, astronomers with their models predict that the height of these objects can be 15 meters, and they can be located approximately 7 metres from each other. But researchers note that, most likely, these objects are found in the Equatorial regions of Europe. The presence of Kolhapur can confirm the energy anomalies that scientists have observed earlier during studies of the moon's surface with radar.

The Researchers note that to confirm the presence of Kolhapur on the surface, Europy need new observations using more modern scientific instruments. Fortunately, this possibility can indeed be pretty soon. Space Agency NASA is developing the Europa Clipper mission, whose launch should take place sometime between 2022 and 2025.

The Orbiter, equipped with the latest tools will be able to approach the surface of the satellite at a height of 25 kilometers and from there to look for Calasparra. It is expected that the overall results of the mission Europa Clipper will be the starting point for the preparation of a future mission to land a spacecraft on the surface of Europa. This device will be able to drill the ice surface of the satellite to peer into a dark ice-world of the ocean. However, the presence of spines on the surface significantly complicate this task, unless you take into account the very technical complexity of such a mission.

To Discuss the study .

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