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Ice Thickness Provides Clue to Warmth of Oceans on Icy Moons

Moon Ganymede by NOAA

Recent research has provided fascinating insights into the warm oceans hidden beneath icy shells on various moons in our Solar System. Scientists are increasingly discovering evidence of warm oceans on icy moons such as Enceladus, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. These findings have raised questions about the possibility of life existing in these extraterrestrial oceans.

One intriguing aspect of this research involves the connection between ice thickness and ocean temperatures. A team of researchers from Cornell University has made significant progress in understanding how the thickness of an ice shell can reveal crucial information about the temperature of the underlying ocean. Their findings were recently published in a research article in the journal JGR Planets, with Justin Lawrence as the lead author.

The researchers delved into the concept of ice pumping, a phenomenon observed under the ice in Antarctica. This process, known as thermohaline ice pumping, involves the exchange of heat and salt between the ice and water beneath it. On Earth, this phenomenon plays a key role in shaping the dynamics of polar regions.

By studying the ice thickness and associated properties, researchers can infer the temperature of an icy world’s ocean from a distance. This innovative approach, termed “conducting oceanography from space,” opens up new possibilities for studying the oceans of distant moons without the need for direct exploration.

The researchers highlight the importance of understanding the interactions between ice and water in these icy worlds. By analyzing ice shell thickness variations, scientists can gain insights into ocean temperatures, a crucial factor in determining the potential habitability of these extraterrestrial oceans.

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Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, is set to be a target for future exploration efforts. NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, scheduled for launch later this year, aims to study Europa’s icy shell in detail. By combining various methods, including ice thickness measurements, the mission seeks to provide a deeper understanding of Europa’s mysterious ocean.

These findings shed light on the intriguing similarities between Earth’s polar regions and the icy worlds of our Solar System. The researchers emphasize the importance of unraveling the mysteries of these icy moons to answer the fundamental question of whether life could exist beneath their icy shells.

The study’s implications extend beyond our Solar System, offering valuable insights into the potential for life in distant ocean worlds. As technology advances and exploration missions expand, scientists are poised to uncover more secrets hidden beneath the icy surfaces of these intriguing moons.

Overall, the research on warm oceans on icy moons represents a significant step forward in our quest to understand the potential for life beyond Earth. By deciphering the complex interactions between ice and water in these extraterrestrial oceans, scientists are paving the way for future exploration missions to unlock the mysteries of the icy moons of our Solar System.

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Tragic accident claims life of outgoing Cal Poly SLO student during outdoor excursion

urlhttps3A2F2Fcalifornia times brightspot.s3.amazonaws.com2F6c2F752Fd171515e4655b41c0f0789d8107d2Fkenneth one

Tragedy struck the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo community as outgoing outdoor enthusiast and mechanical engineering student Kenneth Taylor fell to his death during a hiking trip to Big Sur. The 21-year-old junior from Richland, Wash. had been eagerly looking forward to the annual “Make Waves” Film Festival, an event he had helped plan as a member of the local Surfrider Foundation chapter.

Known for his passion for the outdoors, Taylor was a key figure in the school’s Alpine Club and a trip leader for the Poly Escapes program, which provided outdoor training and trip-planning services for students. His love for snow sports and rock climbing was evident to all who knew him.

In a campus-wide email, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo University President Jeffrey D. Armstrong confirmed Taylor’s passing, expressing the university’s full support for his family and friends during this difficult time.

Two men, one in a Santa hat with fake beard, pose for a picture.

Kenneth Taylor, right, was known as one half of “Kenneth squared,” a nickname he shared with friend and fellow Cal Poly SLO student Kenneth Bevens, left.

(Courtesy of Kenneth Bevens)

Authorities were alerted to the incident when the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance in locating an overdue hiker at Salmon Creek Falls and the Pacific Coast Highway. San Luis Obispo County deputies later discovered Taylor’s body at the base of a 12-story waterfall, ruling the death as non-suspicious.

Heartbroken by the loss, Taylor’s close friend Kenneth Bevens struggled to come to terms with the news. The two had formed a strong bond over their shared love for the outdoors and photography, often being referred to as “Kenneth squared” due to their similar interests and hobbies.

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Bevens fondly remembered their time together and the plans they had for the future, emphasizing Taylor’s positive and helpful nature.

As the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo community mourns the loss of a bright and passionate student, Kenneth Taylor’s memory and legacy continue to live on through those who knew and cherished him.

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