On Europe, snow may fall from the bottom up

Ice can form in ocean water, similar to snow rising up. Scientists studying it say that the same thing can happen on Jupiter’s moon Europa. There it can make the ice crust much cleaner.

Underwater snow. Source: Helen Glazer

Icy world upside down

Whole mountains can grow down from the icy crust of Europe. And the snow in its ocean is able to “fall” from the bottom up, creating a bizarre world in which everything seems upside down. This was reported by scientists from the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Texas, studying the formation of exotic types of ice on Earth.

Their attention was attracted by the phenomena observed under the ice shelves on Earth. There, in the conditions of supercooled water, two exotic types of ice are formed. The first of them seems to stick from below to the surface of the glacier, forming peculiar mountains on it, as if they grow upside down.

The second type is formed directly in the water column. In its structure, it resembles snow and consists of water, in which there is practically no salt. Since fresh water is much lighter than salt water, the Archimedes force begins to push out these particles and a situation arises when it seems to be snowing under water, but from the bottom up.

Snow on Europe

Scientists already know that the pressure in the ocean, which is hidden under the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa, is about the same as under the ice shelves on Earth. But how salty its ocean is remains unknown.

Recent studies show that Europa’s ice can permeate cavities that supply its depths with oxygen. This significantly increases the probability of the existence of this life partner. But if the salinity of the ocean and ice turns out to be too high, it will no longer matter.

So far, ice mountains, on which ice mountains, on which snow falls from the bottom up, remain a theory. The Europa Clipper device will help confirm or deny their existence. It will be equipped with a radar that will look into the depths of the ice sheet.

According to phys.org

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