(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have found that due to constant irradiation, the ice sheet on Ganymede – the largest moon in the solar system – has turned into an unusual amorphous substance.
Ganymede has long attracted the attention of astronomers for his dissimilarity to other moons. It belongs to the four so-called Galilean moons – the largest among Jupiter’s 79 moons. Moreover, Ganymede is the largest moon in the entire solar system and the ninth largest object: it is even larger than the planet Mercury.
The features of Ganymede do not end there. It is the only moon we know of with its own magnetic field, which is most likely generated by the impact of Jupiter’s tidal forces on the interior of its moon.
According to NASA, this field acts like the field of the Earth, in which the lines of magnetic force act as channels for charged particles, the sources of which are the Sun or simply cosmic plasma. It is they who form the famous auroras, which can be observed on Earth in the polar regions. However, Ganymede does not have an atmosphere, so particles of ionized gas bombard the ice that covers most of the giant moon’s surface.
Using the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument on the Juno spacecraft, scientists have been able to shed some light on what happens to space ice as a result of such irradiation. Thanks to 300 infrared images, which were taken during the flight of the probe past the moon at a distance of 100,000 kilometers, the device was able to detect a specific infrared signature of polar ice that is not visible at the equator.
It turned out that the ice at the North Pole of Ganymede was so heavily bombarded by solar particles that it turned into the so-called amorphous ice – no longer solid, but supercooled liquid. If in a solid (for example, in a piece of ice) the atoms are arranged in an orderly manner, then in amorphous ice there is no crystal structure. It’s all the fault of solar particles, which prevent crystallization and constantly destroy the structure.
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