Physics Department Seminar University of Alaska Fairbanks

J O U R N A L    C L U B


Ice Physics on Europa- Surface Morphology and Insights from the Ocean Moon

Lynn Kaluzienski
School of Earth and Climate Sciences and Climate Change Institute, University of Maine



Europa, Jupiter’s smallest Galilean moon, is one of the most likely planets to harbor life in our solar system. Surface morphologies point to a dynamic evolution of its icy shell in geologically recent times with tectonic activity mainly driven by diurnal tidal stresses caused by Europa’s elliptical orbit. These tidal stresses are what likely provide enough heat to harbor a liquid water ocean that may provide the setting for a biosphere. Despite our observations from NASA’s Voyager and Galileo missions as well as recent developments in numerical modeling, there remain large uncertainties in the thermal structure and thickness of Europa’s icy shell. I will discuss the physics behind several of Europa’s most common surface features, the prevailing theories of their formation, as well as the biggest questions we hope to address in the 2023 Europa Clipper mission.


Friday, 05 April 2019

Globe Room, Elvey Building