Modeling Europa’s Dust Plume
Abstract:The discovery of Europa maintaining a probably periodic water plume located at its
south polar terrain constitutes a huge scientific opportunity for an upcoming mission to this
Galilean moon. Measuring the properties of material emerging from interior sources offers
an unique scientific opportunity to understand the conditions at Europa’s subsurface ocean.
Remarkably, the water column density of 1020 m-2 for the Europa plume is similar to the
density of Enceladus’ water plume of (0.9 +- 0.23)1020m-2. This finding strongly suggests
that Europa's plume, similar to Enceladus, also contains a few mass percent of water
ice particles which are formed by (i) nucleation within the vapor streaming through fractures
in Europa's ice crust and (ii) by mantle growth on shock-frozen droplets on the interface of
the moon’s subsurface ocean.
We adjusted the Enceladus plume model by Schmidt et al. (2008) to the conditions at
Europa and derive the size-dependent speed distribution of the emerging ice particles.
We furthermore derived the 3-dimensional structure of the ice particle plume and computed
the snowfall pattern of the ice particles on Europa’s surface.