Exploring the interior of Europa with the Europa Clipper

Space Science Reviews
By: , and 



The Galileo mission to Jupiter revealed that Europa is an ocean world. The Galileo magnetometer experiment in particular provided strong evidence for a salty subsurface ocean beneath the ice shell, likely in contact with the rocky core. Within the ice shell and ocean, a number of tectonic and geodynamic processes may operate today or have operated at some point in the past, including solid ice convection, diapirism, subsumption, and interstitial lake formation.

The science objectives of the Europa Clipper mission include the characterization of Europa’s interior; confirmation of the presence of a subsurface ocean; identification of constraints on the depth to this ocean, and on its salinity and thickness; and determination of processes of material exchange between the surface, ice shell, and ocean.

Three broad categories of investigation are planned to interrogate different aspects of the subsurface structure and properties of the ice shell and ocean: magnetic induction, subsurface radar sounding, and tidal deformation. These investigations are supplemented by several auxiliary measurements. Alone, each of these investigations will reveal unique information. Together, the synergy between these investigations will expose the secrets of the Europan interior in unprecedented detail, an essential step in evaluating the habitability of this ocean world.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Exploring the interior of Europa with the Europa Clipper
Series title Space Science Reviews
DOI 10.1007/s11214-023-00990-y
Volume 219
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 46, 44 p.
Other Geospatial Europa
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