Chaotic Motion of Europa and Ganymede and the Ganymede-Callisto Dichotomy

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Science  12 Oct 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4978, pp. 263-267
DOI: 10.1126/science.250.4978.263


Europa and Ganymede may have undergone an episode of chaotic motion before the establishment of the current Laplace resonance involving the three inner Galilean satellites. During this episode, the orbital eccentricities of both satellites may have increased dramatically. As a result, the mechanical stresses due to tidal deformation of the satellites' icy lithospheres may have been large enough to result in extensive fracturing, and tidal heating may have melted water ice in the mantles of both satellites, triggering the geological activity that has modified their surfaces since the heavy cratering period. The tidal effects on Ganymede during this episode provide an explanation of the dichotomy between it and Callisto, which have similar bulk properties but very different geological histories.

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