A Passive Probe for Subsurface Oceans and Liquid Water in Jupiter's Icy Moons

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:50 PM
Andrew Romero-Wolf, Steve Vance, Frank Maiwald, Paul Andrew Ries and Kurt Liewer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
We present a method for passive detection of subsurface oceans and liquid water in Jovian icy moons using Jupiter's decametric radio emission (DAM). The DAM flux density exceeds 3,000 times the galactic background in the neighborhood of the Jovian icy moons, providing a signal that could be used for passive radio sounding. An instrument located between the icy moon and Jupiter could sample the DAM emission along with its echoes reflected in the ice layer of the target moon. Cross-correlating the direct emission with the echoes would provide a measurement of the subsurface ocean depth along with the dielectric properties of the ice shell. The technique is complementary to ice penetrating radar measurements in that it works best where interference due to Jupiter's strong decametric emission is the strongest.