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A study of Antarctic ice shelves suggests that the ice shell covering Jupiter’s moon Europa could contain a significant amount of underwater “snow”. This could have important implications for NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission, which aims to use ground penetrating radar to study the ice shell and the ocean beneath.

The research was done by a team in the US led by Natalie Wolfenbarger at the University of Texas at Austin and focused on two processes by which Antarctic ice shelves grow from the bottom. The study also has implications for our understanding of whether life emerged in Europa’s ocean, which is encased in an ice shell some 15–25 km thick.

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