Europa's icy shell may be made from pure underwater snow

The shell of Jupiter’s famous ice moon may be formed, in part, by pure underwater snow that floats up instead of falling down. 

A new study, published in the August issue of the journal Astrobiology, finds that Europa’s icy crust might be built partially by “frazil ice,” a fluffy accumulation of ice crystals that also builds up beneath ice sheets on Earth. This frazil ice holds a fraction of the salt found in ice that grows from the ice shelf itself, suggesting that Europa’s ice sheets may be less salty than previously believed. 


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