Jupiter's icy moon Europe has a chaotic surface terrain that is cracked and cracked, suggesting a long history of geological…
Jupiter’s icy moon Europe has a chaotic surface terrain that is cracked and cracked, suggesting a long history of geological activity.
A new series of four images of Europe taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) has helped astronomers to create the first global thermal map of this cold satellite in Jupiter. The new images have a resolution of approximately 200 kilometers, enough to study the relationship between surface heat variations and the great geological characteristics of the moon.
The researchers compared the new ALMA observations from Europe to a thermal model based on observations from Galileo spacecraft. This comparison enabled them to analyze the temperature changes in data and construct the first global map of Europe’s thermal properties. The new data also revealed a mysterious cold spot on Europe’s northern hemisphere.
“These ALMA images are very interesting because they provide the first global map of Europe’s thermal emissions,” said Samantha Trumbo, a planet science researcher at the California Institute of Technology, and lead authors on a paper published in the Astronomical Journal.
“Since Europe is a marine activity with potential geological activity, its surface temperatures are of great interest because they can limit the location and extent of such activities.” [1
9659002] Evidence strongly suggests that under its thin icefinches, Europe has a sea of brown water in contact with a rocky core. Europe also has a relatively young surface, only about 20 to 180 million years old, indicating that thermal or geological processes have not yet been identified at work.
Unlike optical telescopes, which can only detect sunlight reflected by planetary bodies, the radio and millimeter telescopes like ALMA can detect the thermal “glow” naturally emitted by even relatively cold objects in our solar system, including comets, asteroids and moons. At its warmest temperature, Europe’s surface temperature does not rise above minus 160 degrees Celsius (minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit).
“Studying Europe’s thermal properties provides a unique way of understanding its surface,” said Bryan Butler, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, New Mexico, and co-author of the paper.
Research Report: “ALMA Thermal Observations of Europe”, Samantha K. Trumbo, Michael E. Brown and Bryan J. Butler, 2018 October, Astronomical Journal
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
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