Atmospheric/Exospheric Characteristics of Icy Satellites

Authors: Coustenis, A.1; Tokano, T.2; Burger, M.3; Cassidy, T.4; Lopes, R.5; Lorenz, R.6; Retherford, K.7; Schubert, G.8

Source: Space Science Reviews, Volume 153, Numbers 1-4, June 2010 , pp. 155-184(30)

Publisher: Springer

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The atmospheres/exospheres of icy satellites greatly vary from one to the next in terms of density, composition, structure or steadiness. Titan is the only icy satellite with a dense atmosphere comparable in many ways to that of the Earth’s atmosphere. Titan’s atmosphere prevents the surface from direct interaction with the plasma environment, but gives rise to Earth-like exchanges of energy, matter and momentum. The atmospheres of other satellites are tenuous. Enceladus’ atmosphere manifests itself in a large water vapor plume emanating from surface cracks near the south pole. Io’s SO2 atmosphere originates from volcanoes. Europa’s tenuous O2 atmosphere is produced by intense radiation bombardment. This chapter reviews the characteristics of the atmospheres of Titan, Enceladus, Io and Europa based on observations.

Keywords: Atmospheres; Enceladus; Europa; Exospheres; Icy satellites; Io; Titan

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: LESIA, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, 5, pl. Jules Janssen, 92195, Meudon, France, Email: 2: Institut für Geophysik und Meteorologie, Universität zu Köln, Köln, Germany 3: University of Maryland and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, 20771, USA 4: Astronomy Department, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA 5: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, USA 6: Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, USA 7: Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, USA 8: Earth and Space Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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