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M.L. Delitsky, A.L. Lane (JPL)
Jupiterís icy satellites Europa, Ganymede and Callisto are subject to energy fluxes from electrons, photons and magnetospheric plasma ion bombardment. As water ice and CO2 ice are thought to be present on their surfaces, the radiolysis of these materials over time should produce more complicated CHO-containing molecules. These may include: CH3OH, HCHO, CH2CO, C3O2, HCOOH, CH3COOH, H2CO3, HCOOCH, (CH3)2CO, CH3CH2OH, HOCH2CH2OH, polymeric C3O2 and polymeric HCHO (POM). The molecules formed should be detectable with ground-based intruments because of their many active infra-red bands. Another product produced is CO, which will have a high vapor pressure over a Galilean satellite surface at typical temperatures. The vapor pressure of CO at the nighttime temperature of 70 K could be as high as 150 millibar (CRC Handbook). Ganymedeís unique dipolar magnetic field should induce more chemistry in its polar regions due to the focusing of radiation to higher latitudes. The observed lack of leading/trailing asymmetry in its SO2 absorption correlates with this redirection of plasma ions towards the poles. The observance of O atom emissions at high latitudes by Hall et al. (1998) is also consistent with this picture. The ratio of plasma energies directed to the poles to those directed to the equatorial regions is ~ 4.