Recent neutron and X-ray diffraction work done respectively on the ECHIDNA powder diffractometer at OPAL and the Australian Synchrotron (in Melbourne) by Helen Maynard-Casely and co-workers, and published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, has been featured on ABC Radio, and as an article on the ABC website.
Specifically, the work features a new structure of one of the sulphuric acid hydrates, which are thought to be important on the surfaces of Jupiter's Galilean moons: Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The full reference to the work is "A new material for the icy Galilean moons: The structure of sulfuric acid hexahydrate", J. Geophys. Res.: Planets 118, 20124 (2013).
Update: Is Europa too prickly to land on?
New evidence presented at a geoscience meeting in the United States and reported in the media is helping to build a better picture of the formation of Jupiter's ice moons.
A deadly bed of icy javelins could be awaiting any spacecraft that tries to land on some parts of the ice-covered world Europa, say researchers who have carefully modeled the ice processes at work on parts of the Jovian moon to detect features beyond the current low resolution images.
If the prediction of long vertical blades of ice is correct, it will not only help engineers design a lander to tame or avoid the sabers, but also help explain a couple of nagging mysteries about the strange moon.
This evidence was presented by Daniel Hobley of the University of Colorado at the at the meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver
He says that currently, the very best images of Europa only see 10 meters per pixel, at best. That means that if giant ice daggers do exist, they could still be several meters long and still escape detection.
Dr Helen Maynard-Casely says the findings were exciting showing that not only could the surface be spiky, but also made out of this new material found at ANSTO.
‘It’s pretty exciting as we’re really starting to build a picture of what these moons look like on the surface, think once we get peoples imagination going the case for sending a lander there gets even stronger,’ she said.
Read the full Discovery News story here.