Thursday, June 02, 2016

New Insights to Europa's Surface Composition



Ligier et al


We present new insights into Europa's surface composition on the global scale from linear spectral modeling of a high spectral resolution data set acquired during a ground-based observation campaign using SINFONI4, an adaptive optics near-infrared instrument on the Very Large Telescope (ESO). The spectral modeling confirms the typical "bullseye" distribution of sulfuric acid hydrate on the trailing hemisphere, which is consistent with Iogenic sulfur ion implantation. However, the traditional hypothesis of the presence of sulfate salts on the surface of the satellite is challenged as Mg-bearing chlorinated species (chloride, chlorate, and perchlorate) are found to provide improved spectral fits. The derived global distribution of Mg-chlorinated salts (and particularly chloride) is correlated with large-scale geomorphologic units such as chaos and darker areas, thus suggesting an endogenous origin. Based on the 1.65 μm water-ice absorption band shape and position, the surface temperature is estimated to be in the range 110–130 K, and water ice is found to be predominantly in its crystalline state rather than amorphous. While amorphous water ice exhibits a strong correlation with the expected intensity of the Ionian plasma torus bombardment, crystalline water ice is instead more associated with distinct geomorphological units. Endogenous processes such as jets and ice heating due to active geology may explain this relationship. Otherwise, no evidence of a correlation between grain size for the water ice and the sputtering rate has been detected so far.

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