Orbit and rotatio2

Orbit and rotatio2 - [22 The slight eccentricity of...

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Orbit and rotation Animation showing Io's Laplace resonance with Europa and Ganymede Europa orbits Jupiter in just over three and a half days, with an orbital radius of about 670,900 km. With an eccentricity of only 0.009, the orbit itself is nearly circular, and the orbital inclination relative to the Jovian equatorial plane is small, at 0.470°. [20] Like its fellow Galilean satellites , Europa is tidally locked to Jupiter, with one hemisphere of the satellite constantly facing the planet. Because of this, there is a sub-Jovian point on Europa's surface, from which Jupiter would appear to hang directly overhead. Europa's prime meridian is the line intersecting this point. [21] Research suggests the tidal locking may not be full, as a non-synchronous rotation has been proposed: Europa spins faster than it orbits, or at least did so in the past. This suggests an asymmetry in internal mass distribution and that a layer of subsurface liquid separates the icy crust from the rocky interior.
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Unformatted text preview: [22] The slight eccentricity of Europa's orbit, maintained by the gravitational disturbances from the other Galileans, causes Europa's sub-Jovian point to oscillate about a mean position. As Europa comes slightly nearer to Jupiter, the planet's gravitational attraction increases, causing the moon to elongate towards it. As Europa moves slightly away from Jupiter, the planet's gravitational force decreases, causing the moon to relax back into a more spherical shape. The orbital eccentricity of Europa is continuously pumped by its mean-motion resonance with Io . [23] Thus, the tidal flexing kneads Europa's interior and gives the moon a source of heat, possibly allowing its ocean to stay liquid while driving subsurface geological processes. [13] [23] The ultimate source of this energy is Jupiter's rotation, which is tapped by Io through the tides it raises on Jupiter and is transferred to Europa and Ganymede by the orbital resonance....
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