SEAS UNDER ICE: STABILITY OF LIQUID-WATER OCEANS WITHIN ICY WORLDS


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Abstract

The present-day existence of internal oceans under the outer ice shell of several icy satellites of the Solar System has been recently proposed. The presence of antifreeze substances decreasing ice's melting point (and tidal heating in Europa's case) has been generally believed to allow the stability of such oceans; limited cooling of the water (ice plus liquid) layer, due to stability against convection or to stagnant lid convection in the icy shell, have been also considered. Here we propose that even pure liquid-water oceans could survive today within several icy worlds, and we consider some factors affecting thermal modeling in these bodies. So, the existence of such oceans would be a natural consequence of the physical properties of water ice, independently from the addition of antifreeze substances or any other special conditions. The inclusion of these substances would contribute to expand the conditions for water to stay liquid and to increase ocean's volume.

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