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Science, Evolution, and Creationism, by the National Academies, focuses on teaching evolution in today's classrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store.
This is a cutaway of the interior of Ganymede.
Click on image for full size
Image from: The New Solar System

Evolution of the Interior of Icy Moons

Ice can change itself into many different forms. The forms are called phases. Phases can be as different as diamond and graphite. As can be seen in these pictures, diamond has a very different size and shape than does that of graphite.

The "phase" of ice plays a very important role in the evolution of the icy satellites. As the temperature rises or falls inside the moon, the ice inside will restructure itself and change shape. Thus the moon itself will change its shape as the moon evolves!

The movie shows how the satellite might evolve as it cools and the ice inside changes form. Some layers within the satellite may entirely disappear, and the satellite itself may change in size because some ice phases take less space than others! Part of the movie shows the water ice phase diagram.


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Cool It! Game

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Warming of an Icy Moon from Inside

If the satellite has means of warming itself, then beside surface changes due to evolution, the interior may go through many startling changes as the moon evolves. The moon may have water inside, and water...more

Warming of an Icy Moon from Inside

If the satellite has means of warming itself, then the interior may go through many startling changes as the moon evolves. The moon may change its size, and grow or shrink as the layers inside go through...more

Amalthea

Amalthea was discovered by E Barnard in 1872. Of the 17 moons it is the 3rd closest to Jupiter, with a standoff distance of 181,300 km. Amalthea is about the size of a county or small state, and is just...more

Callisto

Callisto was first discovered by Galileo in 1610, making it one of the Galilean Satellites. Of the 60 moons it is the 8th closest to Jupiter, with a standoff distance of 1,070,000 km. It is the 2nd largest...more

Evolution of Callisto

The insides of most of the moons and planets separated while they were forming out of the primitive solar nebula. Measurements by the Galileo spacecraft have been shown that Callisto is the same inside...more

Very Large Impact Crater

Many examples of the differing types of surface are shown in this image. In the foreground is a huge impact crater, which extends for almost an entire hemisphere on the surface. This crater may be compared...more

Surface of Callisto

The surface of Callisto is deeply pockmarked with craters. It looks to be perhaps the most severely cratered body in the solar system. There are also very large craters to be found there. The severity...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF