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Tidal Love numbers of membrane worlds: Europa, Titan, and Co.
Beuthe, M. (2015). Tidal Love numbers of membrane worlds: Europa, Titan, and Co. Icarus 258: 239-266.
In: Icarus. Elsevier. ISSN 0019-1035, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Tides, solid body; Planetary dynamics; Europa; Titan

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    Under tidal forcing, icy satellites with subsurface oceans deform as if the surface were a membrane stretched around a fluid layer. 'Membrane worlds' is thus a fitting name for these bodies and membrane theory provides the perfect toolbox to predict tidal effects. I describe here a new membrane approach to tidal perturbations based on the general theory of viscoelastic-gravitational deformations of spherically symmetric bodies. The massive membrane approach leads to explicit formulas for viscoelastic tidal Love numbers which are exact in the limit of zero crust thickness. Formulas for load Love numbers come as a bonus. The accuracy on k2 and h2 is better than one percent if the crust thickness is less than five percents of the surface radius, which is probably the case for Europa and Titan. The new approach allows for density differences between crust and ocean and correctly includes crust compressibility. This last feature makes it more accurate than the incompressible propagator matrix method. Membrane formulas factorize shallow and deep interior contributions, the latter affecting Love numbers mainly through density stratification. I show that a screening effect explains why ocean stratification typically increases Love numbers instead of reducing them. For Titan, a thin and dense liquid layer at the bottom of a light ocean can raise k2 by more than ten percents. The membrane approach can also deal with dynamical tides in a non-rotating body. I show that a dynamical resonance significantly decreases the tilt factor and may thus lead to underestimating Europa's crust thickness. Finally, the dynamical resonance increases tidal deformations and tidal heating in the crust if the ocean thickness is of the order of a few hundred meters.

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