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Seismic experiment might reveal thickness of Europa’s ice

Scientists propose crashing empty fuel tank into Jupiter moon

By
10:46am, May 25, 2016
Illustration of spacecraft flying by Europa

TARGET: EUROPA  Slamming a spent fuel tank into the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa could vibrate the surface so much that a spacecraft flying by (shown in artist’s illustration) could see the tremors. Scientists might be able to analyze the tremors to gauge the thickness of the ice. 

SALT LAKE CITY— A literal moonshot just might reveal the thickness of Europa’s icy crust.

A new plan to launch an SUV-sized rocket canister at Jupiter’s famous, frigid moon could shake the surface so much that the tremors would be visible from space, said mechanical engineer T.J. Campbell of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

A spacecraft flying overhead could record the tremors, which might help scientists figure out how thick Europa’s ice shell really is, Campbell and colleagues proposed May 24 at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. Estimates range from a few kilometers to more than 30 kilometers (SN: 5/17/14, p. 20).   

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