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Ice-Ocean Exchange Processes in the Jovian and Saturnian Satellites

Abstract

A growing number of satellites in the outer solar system likely have global oceans beneath their outer icy shells. While the presence of liquid water makes these ocean worlds compelling astrobiological targets, the exchange of heat and materials between the deep interior and the surface also plays a critical role in promoting habitable environments. In this article, we combine geophysical, geochemical, and geological observations of the Jovian satellites Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto as well as the Saturnian satellites Enceladus and Titan to summarize our current state of understanding of their interiors and surface exchange processes. Potential mechanisms for driving exchange processes upward from the ocean floor and downward from the satellite surface are then reviewed, which are primarily based on numerical models of ice shell and ocean dynamics and complemented by terrestrial analog studies. Future missions to explore these exo-oceans will further revolutionize our understanding of ice-ocean exchange processes and their implications for the habitability of these worlds.

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Notes

  1. \(J_{2}\) and \(C_{22}\) are coefficients in the spherical harmonic representation of the gravity field outside a satellite. If the satellite is a spherically symmetric rotating body, its equilibrium physical shape will be an oblate spheroid. In that case, \(J_{0}\) measures the mass of the satellite and \(J_{2}\) the flattening of its gravity field. In the case of a tidally deformed body, the equilibrium figure is triaxial and \(C_{22}\) is the dominant coefficient describing the deformation of the gravity field due to rotation and tidal deformation. If \(C>B>A\) are the principal moments of inertia of the satellite, then in case of the spherically symmetric rotating body A=B and \(Ma^{2} J_{2}=C-A\), where \(M\) and \(a\) are the mass and equatorial radius of the satellite. For the tidally deformed body, \(4Ma^{2}C_{22}=B-A\).

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments. K.M.S. was supported by NASA Grant NNX14AR28G. K.K. was supported by the Czech Science Foundation through project No. 19-10809S and by Charles University Research Program No. UNCE/SCI/023. C.R.G. was supported by NASA through the Cassini Project. G.M. acknowledges support from the Italian Space Agency (2018-25-HH.0). Work by F.P. was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant 724908-Habitat OASIS. M.R.N. has been financially supported by the Space Research User Support program of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) under contract number ALW-GO/16-19. T.R. was supported by the Helmholtz Association (project VH-NG-1017). Work by JPL co-authors was partially supported by strategic research and technology funds from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, and by the Icy Worlds and Titan nodes of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute (13-13NAI7_2-0024 and 17-NAI8-2-017). The authors thank the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) for their support in the framework of the PRODEX programme. This is UTIG contribution number 3659.

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Soderlund, K.M., Kalousová, K., Buffo, J.J. et al. Ice-Ocean Exchange Processes in the Jovian and Saturnian Satellites. Space Sci Rev 216, 80 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00706-6

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Keywords

  • Ice-ocean exchange
  • Europa
  • Ganymede
  • Callisto
  • Enceladus
  • Titan