he shell of Jupiter’s ice moon may be formed, in part, by pure underwater
snow that floats up instead of down. A recent study has found that
Europa’s icy crust might be built partially by ‘frazil ice’, a fluffy accumulation of ice crystals.
This holds a fraction of the salt found in ice that grows from the ice shelf itself, meaning Europa’s
ice sheets may be less salty than believed. “When we’re exploring Europa, we’re
interested in the salinity and composition of the ocean, because that’s one of the things that will
govern its potential habitability or even the type of life that might live there,” said Natalie
Wolfenbarger, a graduate student researcher at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics.
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