Published on Tue Jan 04 2022

A New UV Spectral Feature on Europa: Confirmation of NaCl in Leading-hemisphere Chaos Terrain

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Recent visible-wavelength observations of Europa's surface obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope revealed the presence of an absorption feature near 450 nm that appears spatially correlated with leading-hemisphere chaos terrain. This feature was interpreted to reflect the presence of irradiated sodium chloride ultimately sourced from the interior. Here, we use ultraviolet spectra also collected with the Hubble Space Telescope to detect an additional previously unseen absorption near 230 nm, which spatially correlates with the 450 nm feature and with the same leading-hemisphere chaos terrain. We find that the new ultraviolet feature is also well-matched by irradiated sodium chloride at Europa-like conditions. Such confirmation of sodium chloride within geologically young regions has important implications for Europa's subsurface composition.

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