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Moons and Icy Worlds: June 2022


On icy worlds, the ice shell and subsurface ocean form a coupled system -- heat and salinity flux from the ice shell induced by the ice thickness gradient drives circulation in the ocean, and in turn, the heat transport by ocean circulation shapes the ice shell.

Globally ice-covered oceans have been found on multiple moons in the solar system and may also have been a feature of Earth's past. However, relatively little is understood about the dynamics of these ice-covered oceans, which affect not only the physical environment but also any potential life and its detectability.