LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter
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Dione Also May Have Ocean
Saturn's moon Dione may have a 65 km thick global ocean covered with a 100 km thick crust, making it similar to its smaller neighbor Enceladus, famous for spouting jets of water vapor but with a much thicker crust.
Water Plumes Erupt on Europa
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa's ocean without having to drill through miles of ice. Europa has a huge global ocean containing twice as much water as Earth's oceans, but it is protected by a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness.
Mystery of Ceres Missing Craters
The Dawn mission studying the dwarf planet Ceres has mapped small craters but shows Ceres is missing the expected large craters for an object its size. Scientists suspect that Ceres' icy layers may contain salts that have smoothed out its features over time, or perhaps icy volcanism may have buried older craters.
New Gullies on Mars Not from Liquid Water
New findings using data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that gullies on modern Mars are likely not being formed by flowing liquid water. There data show no evidence of the minerals that would form from liquid water present in these cullies; they may be formed from freezing and thawing carbon dioxide frost instead.
Enceladus' Ice Crust Thinner than Expected
A new study indicates that the shell of ice around Enceladus is thinner than previously believed, particularly at its poles. It may be as thin as 1 mile, making it the thinnest known ice shell of the ocean-covered moons. This makes the ocean of water more accessible, for future exploration.