The Opportunities and Challenges in the Use of Extra-Terrestrial Acoustics in the Exploration of the Oceans of Icy Planetary Bodies
Acoustic radiation is the signal of choice for exploring Earth's oceans. Its potential application for the oceans of icy moons requires investigation. However acoustic technology needs to be treated with care for extra-terrestrial purposes. Instruments, calibrations, and predictive codes that have served well on Earth may require fundamental redesign for use on other worlds. However when such an assessment is achieved, acoustic signals open up the possibility of exploring volumes exceeding one million cubic kilometres in a few minutes. This paper begins at tutorial level for novice acousticians, illustrating the principles by which acoustics can be used to monitor the environment at great distances from the source, both by projecting out signals and by using natural signals of opportunity. It then progresses to calculations for a generic icy moon (which resembles, but does not model Europa), proceeding from tutorial calculations of `flat world' models to calculate the propagation times for pulses to circumpropagate around the entire moon. Given that a single emitted pulse can produce multiple arrivals from different propagation paths, the paper discusses how the structure of the received time history can be used to monitor changes in the temperature profile in the ocean, position of the water/ice layer and the asphericity of the moon during orbit.