Processes that shaped the ridges and troughs on the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Ganymede are likely similar to tectonic processes seen on Earth, according to a team of researchers led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). To arrive at this conclusion, the team subjected physical models made of clay to stretching forces that simulate tectonic action. The results were published in Geophysical Research Letters.
Physical analog models simulate geologic structures in laboratory settings so that the developmental sequence of various phenomena can be studied as they occur.
Left Image: Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute;
Right Image: Courtesy of NASA/JPL SSI image s0552443639
An image of a tabletop-size analog model (left) shows details of fault systems created by extension that visually match an image by spacecraft Galileo of faulted terrain on Ganymede (right).
The team – including researchers from SwRI, Wheaton College, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NuStar Energy LP – created complex patterns of faults in their models, similar to the ridge and trough features seen in some regions of Ganymede. The models consisted of a “wet clay cake” material possessing brittle characteristics to simulate how the icy moon’s lithosphere, the outermost solid shell, responds to stresses by cracking.
The laboratory models suggest that characteristic patterns of ridges and troughs, called grooved terrain on Ganymede, result from its surface being stretched. “The physical models showed a marked similarity to the surface features observed on Ganymede,” said co-author Dr. Danielle Wyrick, a senior research scientist in the SwRI Space Science and Engineering Division.
“From the experiments, it appears that a process in which the crust breaks into separate blocks by large amounts of extension is the primary mechanism for creating these distinct features.”
“Physical analog modeling allows us to simulate the formation of complex three-dimensional geologic structures on Ganymede, without actually going to Ganymede,” said co-author Dr. David Ferrill, director of the Earth, Material and Planetary Sciences Department in the SwRI Geosciences and Engineering Division.
“These scaled models are able to reproduce the fine geometric details of geologic processes, such as faulting, and to develop and test hypotheses for landscape evolution on planetary bodies.”
SwRI researchers previously have used physical analog models to examine the process by which pit crater chains — a series of linear pits, or depressions — develop on Mars, and how magma in the Martian subsurface deforms the surface of the Red Planet.
NASA’s Outer Planets Research Program supported this work. The paper, “Physical models of grooved terrain tectonics on Ganymede,” by D.W. Sims, D.Y. Wyrick, D.A. Ferrill, A.P. Morris, G.C. Collins, R.T. Pappalardo and S.L. Colton, was published by Geophysical Research Letters, 16 June 2014, Volume 41, Issue 11, pages 3774–3778 , (doi 10.1002/2014GL060359).
Editors: An image is available at http://www.swri.org/press/2014/ganymede.htm.
For more information, contact Joe Fohn, (210) 522-4630, or Maria Martinez Stothoff, (210) 522-3305, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510
Maria Martinez Stothoff | Eurek Alert!
Spiral arms: not just in galaxies
30.09.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
Discovery of an Extragalactic Hot Molecular Core
29.09.2016 | National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...
Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.
Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...
With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...
For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.
Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...
30.09.2016 | Event News
29.09.2016 | Event News
28.09.2016 | Event News
30.09.2016 | Earth Sciences
30.09.2016 | Event News
30.09.2016 | Physics and Astronomy