We present mid-infrared Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)/Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (EXES) spectroscopy of Europa, seeking direct evidence of the presence of water vapor arising from plumes venting from the surface. We place quantitatively useful upper limits on the strength of water vibrational-rotational emission lines. Conversion to water mass limits is dependent on the rotational temperature of the vapor. For low rotational temperature, the limits lie below the inferred water mass from previous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) plume observations. For higher temperatures, the limits are comparable. We also present coordinated HST transit observations obtained close in time to the SOFIA observations. There is evidence for a feature close to the location of the previously seen feature north of the crater Pwyll in one of the HST images, although it was not observable by EXES given its location. We conclude that if a water plume had been active at the time of the SOFIA observation, with the strength implied by previous HST observations, then under the right Earth atmospheric and geometric conditions, the plume could have been detected by EXES; however, no infrared water vibrational-rotational emission was detected.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- January 2019
- planets and satellites: individual: Europa;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Accepted by Astrophysical Journal Letters, Dec. 26, 2018