Regional Study of Europa's Photometry

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 22, 2020
Filed under
Regional Study of Europa's Photometry

The surface of Europa is geologically young and shows signs of current activity. Studying it from a photometric point of view gives us insight on its physical state.

We used a collection of 57 images from Voyager’s Imaging Science System and New Horizons’ LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager for which we corrected the geometric metadata and projected every pixel to compute photometric information (reflectance and geometry of observation).

We studied 20 areas scattered across the surface of Europa and estimated their photometric behavior using the Hapke radiative transfer model and a Bayesian framework in order to estimate their microphysical state. We have found that most of them were consistent with the bright backscattering behavior of Europa, already observed at a global scale, indicating the presence of grains maturated by space weathering.

However, we have identified very bright areas showing a narrow forward scattering possibly indicating the presence of fresh deposits that could be attributed to recent cryovolcanism or jets. Overall, we showed that the photometry of Europa’s surface is more diverse than previously thought and so is its microphysical state.

Ines Belgacem, Frédéric Schmidt, Grégory Jonniaux
Comments: 46 pages, 17 figures, 3 tables
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability (
Journal reference: Icarus, Volume 338, 2020, 113525, ISSN 0019-1035
DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2019.113525
Report number: ISSN 0019-1035
Cite as: arXiv:2007.11445 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2007.11445v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Ines Belgacem
[v1] Tue, 21 Jul 2020 15:22:31 UTC (13,957 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻