Regular Article – Atomic and Molecular Collisions
Electron impact ionization in the icy Galilean satellites’ atmospheres
Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA
2 University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA
3 New York University, New York, USA
4 University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
5 KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
Accepted: 30 January 2023
Published online: 17 February 2023
Electron impact ionization is critical in producing the ionospheres on many planetary bodies and, as discussed here, is critical for interpreting spacecraft and telescopic observations of the tenuous atmospheres of the icy Galilean satellites of Jupiter (Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto), which form an interesting planetary system. Fortunately, laboratory measurements, extrapolated by theoretical models, were developed and published over a number of years by K. Becker and colleagues (see Deutsch et al. in Adv At Mol Opt Phys 57:87–155, 2009) to provide accurate electron impact ionization cross sections for atoms and molecules, which are crucial to correctly interpret these measurements. Because of their relevance for the Jovian icy satellites, we provide useful fits to the complex, semiempirical Deutsch–Märk formula for energy-dependent electron impact ionization cross sections of gas-phase water products (i.e., HO, H, O, H, O). These are then used with measurements of the thermal plasma in the Jovian magnetosphere to produce ionization rates for comparison with solar photo-ionization rates at the icy Galilean satellites.
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