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Towards the understanding of the subsurface planetary oceans using ocean-induced magnetic field



Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
14 June 2023

Duration: 36 months


Icy moons of the giant planets contain large subsurface oceans beneath external ice shells. The understanding of the subsurface oceans is important because the oceans transport heat and chemicals from the deep interior to the surface, influence the tectonic evolution of the ice crust and are possible candidates for hosting life. In this project, we propose to study the ocean-induced magnetic field (OIMF) which is generated by the circulation of the conductive seawater in presence of the ambient Jovian magnetic field via the process of electromagnetic (EM) induction. In particular, our goal is to set limits of OIMF observability by space probes and assess the prospect of the EM methods in detailed investigation of icy moon interiors. The OIMF has played a crucial role in interpreting Galileo mission results and in detecting the subsurface oceans on Europa, Callisto and Ganymede (Zimmer et al., 2000; Khurana et al., 2002; Kivelson et al., 2002). However, it is likely that the potential of OIMF has not yet been fully explored. Moreover, two space missions to the satellites of Jupiter (NASA’s Europa Clipper and ESA’s JUICE) are expected to bring new data in early 2030s, providing unprecedentedly detailed information on the structure and temporal variations of the magnetic field in the vicinity of Europa and Ganymede. The modelling of OIMF represents a multidisciplinary project which requires effective synergy between scientists from different geophysical branches. Our team is experienced in the modelling of OIMF (Šachl et al., 2019, 2022; Velímský et al., 2018, 2019) as well as the modelling of ocean circulation (Kvorka et al., 2022; Šachl et al., 2020) and ice shell deformation (Kvorka et al., 2018; Čadek et al., 2021) in icy moons. Thus, the readiness of our team for the proposed project is clearly high and we are capable of completing it successfully.

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Towards the understanding of the subsurface planetary oceans using ocean-induced magnetic field