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Joule heating of the south polar terrain on Enceladus

Author(s): Hand, K. P.; Khurana, K. K.; Chyba, Christopher F.

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Abstract: We report that Joule heating in Enceladus, resulting from the interaction of Enceladus with Saturn's magnetic field, may account for 150 kW to 52 MW of power through Enceladus. Electric currents passing through subsurface channels of low salinity and just a few kilometers in depth could supply a source of power to the south polar terrain, providing a small but previously unaccounted for contribution to the observed heat flux and plume activity. Studies of the electrical heating of Jupiter's moon Europa have concluded that electricity is a negligible heating source since no connection between the conductive subsurface and Alfven currents has been observed. Here we show that, contrary to results for the Jupiter system, electrical heating may be a source of internal energy for Enceladus, contributing to localized heating, production of water vapor, and the persistence of the "tiger stripes." This contribution is of order 0.001-0.25% of the total observed heat flux, and thus, Joule heating cannot explain the total south polar terrain heat anomaly. The exclusion of salt ions during refreezing serves to enhance volumetric Joule heating and could extend the lifetime of liquid water fractures in the south polar terrain.
Publication Date: 2011
Electronic Publication Date: 27-Apr-2011
Citation: Hand, K. P., Khurana, K. K., Chyba, C. F. (2011). Joule heating of the south polar terrain on Enceladus. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116 (E4), 10.1029/2010JE003776
DOI: doi:10.1029/2010JE003776
ISSN: 0148-0227
Pages: 1 - 5
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Geophysical Research
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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