Production Rates of Noble Gases in the Near-Surface Layers of Europa by Energetic Charged Particles and the Potential for Determining Exposure AgesThe surface of Europa is expected to be extremely active, undergoing tectonic and/or tidal geological activity and sputtering/ deposition, as well as impact cratering. Determination of the actual age of the surface at one or more places would greatly simplify trying to sort out what processes are occurring, and at what rate. If there is K present, as the spectral and compositional modeling discussed predict, it should be possible, in principle, to determine K-Ar crystallization ages. Whether or not there is K present, a consideration of the environment suggests we can determine an energetic particle exposure age if we can make in situ measurements of the abundances of major elements and of noble gas isotopes. This requires instrumentation that is within reach of current technology. In this paper, we calculate production rates for noble-gas isotopes in a simplified Europan surface, to quantify the amount of light noble gases produced by exposure to energetic particles.
Swindle, T. D. (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)
Reedy, R. C. (New Mexico Univ. Albuquerque, NM, United States)
Masarik, J. (Komensky Univ. Bratislava, Czechoslovakia)