The Icy Crust of the Jupiter Moon, Europa

  • Ronald Greeley
Conference paper
Part of the Solid Mechanics and Its Applications book series (SMIA, volume 94)


Solar system exploration shows a wide variety of satellites with icy surfaces. Europa, a moon of Jupiter, is a rocky object about the size of Earth’s moon, but covered with an outer shell of water composition 150 km thick. Although the surface is frozen, it is not known if liquid water exists beneath the icy crust. Surface evidence suggests the presence of water or mobile ice in the recent past; images reveal slabs of crust that have been disrupted and moved into new positions. Other areas show zones that have been fractured, spread apart, and infilled by water-rich material. Various ice ridges, some more than 2000 km long, could represent fractures of the ice in response to tidal stresses, followed by extrusion of ductile ice or water, or they could be intrusions of thermally-driven ductile ice, or features resulting from some other process. Although some features are similar to those of terrestrial sea ice, their large size and morphology require additional explanations. This report reviews the current understanding of Europa’s ice crust and outlines plans for future exploration.


Galilean Satellite Subsurface Ocean Tidal Stress Solar System Exploration Galileo Mission 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Greeley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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