Europa's Synthetic Subsurface Heat Transport (Version 2)

  • Released Monday, May 15th, 2006
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:55PM
  • ID: 2946

Encounters with Jupiter's moon Europa by the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft indicated that a liquid salty ocean might exist below a layer of surface ice that is up to 10 kilometers thick. An ocean general circulation model developed to study the earth's oceans was used to investigate the tidally-forced ocean circulations on Europa. The orbit of Europa is 'gravity locked' so that the same side of Europa always faces Jupiter as is the case with the earth's moon. The icy surface of Europa heaves up and down 50 meters due to the strong tidal forces. This visualization shows the temperature changes induced from the flow fields calculated for a European ocean 50 kilometers deep. The warmest temperatures tend to be near the equator, not because of heating by the sun, but because the currents in the European ocean move the warmest waters to that location. Understanding the thermal and flow fields from these model runs will help to interpret observations from future missions to Europa such as the Jupiter's Icy Moons Orbiter mission proposed for launch in 2012.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio


This visualization is related to the following missions:

Datasets used in this visualization

(Collected with the Ocean General Circulation Model sensor)
Model Asked David Adamec and John Waldrop

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