The icy moons of the gas giants as possible habitats

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Abstract

Dr Athena Coustenis
Observatorire de Paris
The icy moons of the gas giants as possible habitats Athena Coustenis
LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL -Research Univ., CNRS, Univ. Paris 6, Sorbonne Univ., Univ. Paris -Diderot, Sorbonne Paris -Cité, 5, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France (athena.coustenis@obspm.fr )
The study of the habitable conditions in our solar system tends to extend the limits of the region where we thought life might appear and subsist towards the external parts , with in the realms of the giant planets systems . Several of the icy moons around gas giants show promising conditions for the developme nt and/or maintenance of life [e.g. Coustenis & Encrenaz, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013 ]. Jupiter's Europa, Callisto and Ganymede as well as Saturn's Titan and Enceladus, seem to have some of the requirements for habitability, like organic -rich atmospheres and underground liquid water oc eans for which we find evidence in the data acquired by the Galileo and the Cassini - Huygens missions. The se oceans , hidden under icy crusts, may even be (in the case of Europa and Enceladus ) in direct contact with a silicate mantle floor and kept warm through time by tidally generated heat , similar to the E arth . Furthermore, the strong gravitational pull operated by the giant planets may produce enough energy to sufficiently heat the cores of orbiting icy moons. Sim ilarly, waterworlds can exist as exoplanets around other stars . In the solar system, such pote ntial habitats can be investigated with designated space missions, like ESA's JUpiter ICy moon Explorer (JUICE) to Jupiter's system (launch in 2022 ) and others. Biography:
Athena Coustenis is an Astrophysicist, Director of Research of the French Nationa l Science Research Center in LESIA/Paris Observatory. She specializes in Planetology and space research.
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  • Venue

    Physics Theatre C

  • Date

    April 6, 2018

  • Time

    From: 10h00 To: 11h00

  • Sponsor

    University of St Andrews
    The oldest university in Scotland, with international renown for both research and education of undergraduates and postgraduates.

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