Friday, September 16, 2016

The Surface Temperature of Europa




Previous estimates of the surface temperature of Jupiter's moon, Europa, neglected the effect of the eccentricity of Jupiter's orbit around the Sun, the effect of the eclipse of Europa (i.e., the relative time that Europa is within the shadow of Jupiter), and the effect of Europa's internal heating. Here we estimate the surface temperature of Europa, when Europa's obliquity, eclipse and internal heating, as well as the eccentricity of Jupiter, are all taken into account. For a typical internal heating rate of 0.05 W/m2 (corresponding to an ice thickness of about 10 kms), the equator, pole, and global mean surface temperatures are 101.7 K, 45.26 K, and 94.75 K, respectively. We found that the temperature at the high latitudes is significantly affected by the internal heating. We also studied the effect of the internal heating on the mean thickness of Europa's icy shell and conclude that the polar region temperature can be used to constrain the internal heating and the depth of the ice. Our approach and formalism can be implemented to estimate the temperature of other moons in the solar system.

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