Magnetospheric considerations for solar system ice state

Paranicas, C.; Hibbitts, C.A.; Kollmann, P.; Ligier, N.; Hendrix, A.R.; Nordheim, T.A.; Roussos, E.; Krupp, N.; Blaney, D.; Cassidy, T.A. and Clark, G. (2018). Magnetospheric considerations for solar system ice state. Icarus, 302 pp. 560–654.



The current lattice configuration of the water ice on the surfaces of the inner satellites of Jupiter and Saturn is likely shaped by many factors. But laboratory experiments have found that energetic proton irradiation can cause a transition in the structure of pure water ice from crystalline to amorphous. It is not known to what extent this process is competitive with other processes in solar system contexts. For example, surface regions that are rich in water ice may be too warm for this effect to be important, even if the energetic proton bombardment rate is very high. In this paper, we make predictions, based on particle flux levels and other considerations, about where in the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn the ∼MeV proton irradiation mechanism should be most relevant. Our results support the conclusions of Hansen and McCord (2004), who related relative level of radiation on the three outer Galilean satellites to the amorphous ice content within the top 1 mm of surface. We argue here that if magnetospheric effects are considered more carefully, the correlation is even more compelling. Crystalline ice is by far the dominant ice state detected on the inner Saturnian satellites and, as we show here, the flux of bombarding energetic protons onto these bodies is much smaller than at the inner Jovian satellites. Therefore, the ice on the Saturnian satellites also corroborates the correlation.

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