LPL Newsletter: November 2019

Friday, November 1, 2019

This month, we highlight LPL research into two very different types of objects lurking among the giant planets.

One item feeatures a study by Dr. Kathryn Volk, Professor Walter Harris, and collaborators about the likelihood that many of the comets we observe spent time just beyond Jupiter as objects known as centaurs, before being nudged into the inner solar system. In the second article, Regents' Professor Alfred McEwen and others discuss moons of the giant planets, mostly notably Jupiter’s moon Io, that are heated enough by tidal forces to have molten interiors. In each story, we see how working to understand one unique object can lead to advances in knowledge applicable to many others. 

I hope you enjoy catching up on recent LPL research. Contact us at PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOkhOWUNZQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+SE5ZQ1lAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg== if you'd like to be added to the newsletter distribution list.

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Illustration of what centaur SW1 would look like if it became an inner solar system Jupiter-Family comet at a distance of 0.2 AU (19 million miles) from Earth. Moon is in upper right part of frame for scale. (Image: Heather Roper)

Beyond Jupiter, Researchers Discovered a `Cradle of Comets'

Researchers have discovered a region just beyond Jupiter that acts as a "comet gateway," funneling icy bodies from deep space into the inner solar system, where they can become regular visitors of Earth's neighborhood.

Ganymede, Europa, and Io (from left to right) are in resonant orbits around Jupiter, leading to intense tidal heating of Io, moderate heating of Europa, and perhaps past heating of Ganymede. Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Does Io Have a Magma Ocean?

Future space missions will further our knowledge of tidal heating and orbital resonances, processes thought to create spectacular volcanism and oceans of magma or water on other worlds.