Seismic investigation of icy crust covering subsurface oceans of Europa and Ganymede: Preliminary assessment of hypothetical experiment using impactor

Aline Franqui, Spencer Seufert, Masataka Okutsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Jupiter's satellite Europa is believed to harbor a global ocean beneath its ice-covered surface. But the thickness of this ice, despite its significance to the habitability of this moon, is unknown: estimates range from as thin as hundreds of meters to as thick as tens of kilometers. In this paper, we investigate the feasibility of a hypothetical experiment in which the ice's thickness is measured via seismic analysis. The assumed scenario calls for a seismometer to be placed on the satellite's surface to detect the ice surface's seismic response induced by an artificial impact event. Our hypothetical experiment could be applied at Europa as well as at Ganymede. For both satellites, two impact scenarios are considered: a low-energy-impact case, in which an orbiter probe impacts the ice at the end of the mission, and a high-energy-impact case, in which a spent upper rocket stage impacts the ice upon Jupiter arrival. We find that an impactor-induced seismic investigation is a promising add-on experiment in future missions to the icy moons of Jupiter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-178
Number of pages9
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume155
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

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Ice
Experiments
Moon
Satellites
Seismographs
Seismic response
Rockets
Ports and harbors

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering

Cite this

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title = "Seismic investigation of icy crust covering subsurface oceans of Europa and Ganymede: Preliminary assessment of hypothetical experiment using impactor",
abstract = "Jupiter's satellite Europa is believed to harbor a global ocean beneath its ice-covered surface. But the thickness of this ice, despite its significance to the habitability of this moon, is unknown: estimates range from as thin as hundreds of meters to as thick as tens of kilometers. In this paper, we investigate the feasibility of a hypothetical experiment in which the ice's thickness is measured via seismic analysis. The assumed scenario calls for a seismometer to be placed on the satellite's surface to detect the ice surface's seismic response induced by an artificial impact event. Our hypothetical experiment could be applied at Europa as well as at Ganymede. For both satellites, two impact scenarios are considered: a low-energy-impact case, in which an orbiter probe impacts the ice at the end of the mission, and a high-energy-impact case, in which a spent upper rocket stage impacts the ice upon Jupiter arrival. We find that an impactor-induced seismic investigation is a promising add-on experiment in future missions to the icy moons of Jupiter.",
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Seismic investigation of icy crust covering subsurface oceans of Europa and Ganymede : Preliminary assessment of hypothetical experiment using impactor. / Franqui, Aline; Seufert, Spencer; Okutsu, Masataka.

In: Acta Astronautica, Vol. 155, 01.02.2019, p. 170-178.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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