Large Lakes of Liquid Water Could Be Near the Surface of Europa

Jupiter’s moon Europa has a liquid water ocean under ice and that ice has many mysterious double ridge formations. A double ridge formation was found and analyzed in Northwest Greenland. The Greenland formation has the same gravity-scaled geometry as those found on Europa. Using surface elevation and radar sounding data, researchers show that this double ridge was formed by successive refreezing, pressurization, and fracture of a shallow water sill within the ice sheet. If the same process is responsible for Europa’s double ridges, the results suggest that shallow liquid water is spatially and temporally ubiquitous across Europa’s ice shell.

Above – This artist’s conception shows how double ridges on the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa may form over shallow, refreezing water pockets within the ice shell. This mechanism is based on the study of an analogous double ridge feature found on Earth’s Greenland Ice Sheet. Credit: Justice Blaine Wainwright

The Europa Clipper and the ESA’s JUICE mission (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission will be launching in 2024 and 2023 respectively. They could determine if there is near-surface water. Liquid water lakes near the surface would be far easier to search for life than an ocean under 30 kilometers of ice.

investigation on Europa Clipper could reveal whether or not this model for double ridge formation does indeed apply to Europa.

Nature Communications – Double ridge formation over shallow water sills on Jupiter’s moon Europa

SOURCES – Nature Communications
Written By Brian Wang,