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Europa and Icy Moons: February 2007


Salinity of Europa's Ocean

New research from NAI's SETI Institute Team published online in Icarus today outlines the empirical range of salt concentrations permitted for Europa's ocean. Solutions within the range imply high, near-saturation salt concentrations and require a Europan ice shell of less than 15 km thick, with a best fit at 4 km ice thickness. The paper examines the implications for subsurface habitability. [source: NAI Newsletter]

Speaker: Tim Raub (Yale University), Date/Time: Monday, February 26, 2007 11AM PST

Background: Using atmospheric chemical models of a Snowball Earth, scientists from NAI's Alumni Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team showed that, during long and severe glacial intervals, a weak hydrological cycle coupled with photochemical reactions involving water vapor would give rise to the sustained production of hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide, upon release from melting ice into the oceans and atmosphere at the end of the snowball event, could mediate global oxidation events.