Analyzing plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa
A team composed of Wheaton students and a professor has received funding to continue the investigation into whether the surface of one of Jupiter’s moons is being shaped by plate tectonic activity, like Earth.
Physics professor Geoffrey Collins is part of a team that recently won a grant from NASA to revisit old data in light of the new theory. The award provides more than $132,000 to Wheaton for Professor Collins and students to look more closely at the evidence of possible plate tectonic activity on Europa. The grant funding allows Collins to devote more time to the research project and hire student research assistants, and for the Wheaton research team to present their work at conferences.
Planetary geologists Simon Kattenhorn, of the University of Idaho, Moscow, and Louise Prockter, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., pointed out evidence for plate tectonics on Europa last fall in an article published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Plate tectonics is the scientific theory that Earth’s outer layer is made up of plates or blocks that move, geological activity that leads to the formation of mountains and volcanoes and sets off earthquakes. The new observations on Europa provide the first solid evidence that this geologic process may also occur beyond Earth. [Read more...]