2014 Annual Science Report
Arizona State University Reporting | SEP 2013 – DEC 2014
Habitability of Water-Rich Environments, Task 2: Model the Dynamics of Icy Mantles
One of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, is one of the few places in the solar system in which the physical and chemical conditions may be suitable for sustaining life. Europa is composed on an outer H2O layer, comprised of rigid ice overlying a liquid water ocean. It is this liquid water ocean which has been hypothesized as having the ingredients necessary for life, but it is shielded from our observation by the thick ice layer. However, under certain conditions, the ice layer is expected to undergo convection, possibly transporting chemicals from the liquid ocean to the surface, where we may be able to detect them. We perform computer modeling of ice/ocean convection to investigate how ocean material is carried up through the ice layer and whether it is expected to reach Europa’s surface. This work provides guidance for future missions which may probe the chemistry of the ice surface.
Divya Allu Peddinti’s work, providing a geodynamic framework for understanding transport of material from Europa’s ocean to its surface, was published in this final project year.