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Salts on Europa's Surface Detected by Galileo's Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer

Science  22 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5367, pp. 1242-1245
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5367.1242

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Abstract

Reflectance spectra in the 1- to 2.5-micrometer wavelength region of the surface of Europa obtained by Galileo's Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer exhibit distorted water absorption bands that indicate the presence of hydrated minerals. The laboratory spectra of hydrated salt minerals such as magnesium sulfates and sodium carbonates and mixtures of these minerals provide a close match to the Europa spectra. The distorted bands are only observed in the optically darker areas of Europa, including the lineaments, and may represent evaporite deposits formed by water, rich in dissolved salts, reaching the surface from a water-rich layer underlying an ice crust.

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