Research CommentariesPlanetary Science

The Salt of Europa

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Science  22 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5367, pp. 1211-1212
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5367.1211

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The Galileo mission to Jupiter has provided strong evidence that its moon Europa supports a deep water ocean covered by a layer of ice. In his research commentary, Kargel discusses spectroscopic results reported in the same issue by McCord et al . indicating that Europa's icy surface is paved with regions of hydrated salts interspersed with areas of pure ice. The findings also suggest that the conductive salt water could be a giant electrical circuit and that Europa's unusual magnetic field could result from interactions with Jupiter's field.