A passive probe for subsurface oceans and liquid water in Jupiter's icy moons

Andrew Romero-Wolf, Steve Vance, Frank Maiwald, Essam Heggy, Paul Ries, Kurt Liewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


We describe an interferometric reflectometer method for passive detection of subsurface oceans and liquid water in jovian icy moons using Jupiter's decametric radio emission (DAM). The DAM flux density exceeds 3000 times the galactic background in the neighborhood of the jovian icy moons, providing a signal that could be used for passive radio sounding. An instrument located between the icy moon and Jupiter could sample the DAM emission along with its echoes reflected in the ice layer of the target moon. Cross-correlating the direct emission with the echoes would provide a measurement of the ice shell thickness along with its dielectric properties. The interferometric reflectometer provides a simple solution to sub-jovian radio sounding of ice shells that is complementary to ice penetrating radar measurements better suited to measurements in the anti-jovian hemisphere that shadows Jupiter's strong decametric emission. The passive nature of this technique also serves as risk reduction in case of radar transmitter failure. The interferometric reflectometer could operate with electrically short antennas, thus extending ice depth measurements to lower frequencies, and potentially providing a deeper view into the ice shells of jovian moons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-477
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Europa
  • Ganymede
  • Ices
  • Jupiter
  • Radar observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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