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Constraints on effusive cryovolcanic eruptions on Europa using topography obtained from Galileo images

Abstract : Images of Europa's surface taken by the Galileo Solid State Imager (SSI) show smooth features measuring a few kilometers, potentially resulting from eruptions of low-viscosity material such as liquid cryomagma. We estimated the volume of four of these smooth features by producing Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) of four Galileo/SSI images. We used the shape-from-shading technique with special care to estimate the uncertainties on the produced DEMs and estimated feature volumes to be between (5.7 ±0.9) × 107 m3 and (2.7 ±0.4) × 108 m3. We discussed the implications for putative sub-surface liquid reservoir dimensions in the case of eruptions induced from freezing reservoirs. Our previous cryovolcanic eruption model was improved by considering a cycle of cryomagma freezing and effusion and by estimating the vaporized cryolava fraction once cryolava spreads onto Europa's surface. Our results show that the cryomagma reservoirs would have to be relatively large to generate these smooth features (1 to 100 km3 if the flow features result from a single eruption, and 0.4 to 60 km3 for the full lifetime of a reservoir generating cyclic eruptions). The two future missions JUICE (ESA) and Europa Clipper (NASA) should reach Europa during the late 2020s. They shall give more information on those putative cryovolcanic regions which appear as interesting targets that could provide a better understanding of the material exchanges between the surface, sub-surface and ocean of Europa.
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Submitted on : Thursday, August 4, 2022 - 7:59:07 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, August 6, 2022 - 3:26:34 AM

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Elodie Lesage, Frédéric Schmidt, François Andrieu, Hélène Massol. Constraints on effusive cryovolcanic eruptions on Europa using topography obtained from Galileo images. Icarus, 2021, 361, ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2021.114373⟩. ⟨insu-03745269⟩

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