The Solar System has many potentially habitable ocean worlds, some of
which contain significantly more water than Earth. A number of these
oceans are hidden by an icy crust, lack significant land barriers, and
are heated from below by the mantle; thus, their dynamics are quite
different from Earth. While observations are limited, recent studies
have used numerical models to define these planets by different regimes
describing the nature of their dynamics and potential for habitability.
The effects of convection (thermally-driven movement) and planetary
rotation on the movement of heat and materials between the mantle,
ocean, and ice on these kinds of planets are explored using a range of
rotation and mantle heating patterns. While dynamics due to rotation are
stable, it is found that ice-ocean heat exchange is sensitive to the
locations of mantle heating. This implies that different mantle heating
patterns can affect ice thickness and geologic features that are
detectable at the surface, which will allow us to make inferences about
ocean dynamics from images of distant planets covered in ice.
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