Energetic ion sputtering effects at Ganymede

W. H. Ip, D. J. Williams, R. W. McEntire, B. Mauk

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The energy spectra of magnetospheric ion measurements from the Energetic Particle Detectors (EPD) experiment on Galileo during the G2 encounter with Ganymede were used to estimate the ion sputtering rate from the surface of this largest Galilean moon. A combination of the ion composition and the mass-dependent sputtering yield shows that a total production rate of about 1026 -4.6 × 1026 H2O molecules/s can be expected from the precipitation of the energetic ions at the polar region. The emission of the sputtered neutral particles will contribute to the formation of an extended exosphere as well as a distributed gas cloud in the Jovian system. Additional sputtering might be possible if an electrostatic potential drop of a few kV forms leading to the acceleration of ionospheric (oxygen) ions towards Ganymede's surface.

Original languageEnglish
Article number97GL02814
Pages (from-to)2631-2634
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1997


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