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Sunday 25 June 2017

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Artist's impression of JUICE. - ESA/AOES

Artist's impression of JUICE. - ESA/AOES

Planetary

ESA Chooses Instruments for its Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer

MADRID, Spain — The JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission, JUICE, will carry a total of 11 scientific experiments to study the gas giant planet and its large ocean-bearing moons, ESA announced today.

JUICE is the first Large-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015–2025 programme. Planned for launch in 2022 and arrival at Jupiter in 2030, it will spend at least three years making detailed observations of the biggest planet in the Solar System and three of its largest moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

These moons are thought to harbour vast water oceans beneath their icy surfaces and JUICE will map their surfaces, sound their interiors and assess their potential for hosting life in their oceans.

Today, ESA’s Science Programme Committee approved a complement of instruments that includes cameras and spectrometers, a laser altimeter and an ice-penetrating radar. The mission will also carry a magnetometer, plasma and particle monitors, and radio science hardware.

The instruments will be developed by scientific teams from 15 European countries, the US and Japan, through corresponding national funding.

“The selection of JUICE’s instruments is a key milestone in ESA’s flagship mission to the outer Solar System, which represents an unprecedented opportunity to showcase leading European technological and scientific expertise,” says Alvaro Giménez Cañete, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.

The 11 Instrument Suites are:

  JANUS: Jovis, Amorum ac Natorum Undique Scrutator, camera system
  MAJIS: Moons and Jupiter Imaging Spectrometer
  UVS: UV Imaging Spectrograph
  SWI: Sub-millimetre Wave Instrument
  GALA: Ganymede Laser Altimeter
  RIME: Radar for Icy Moons Exploration
  J-MAG: Magnetometer for JUICE
  PEP: Particle Environment Package
  RPWI: Radio & Plasma Wave Investigation
  3GM: Gravity & Geophysics of Jupiter and Galilean Moons
  PRIDE: Planetary Radio Interferometer & Doppler Experiment (note this does not include spacecraft hardware but will exploit VLBI – Very Large Base Interferometry – to conduct radio science)

“The suite of instruments addresses all of the mission’s science goals, from in-situ measurements of Jupiter’s vast magnetic field and plasma environment, to remote observations of the surfaces and interiors of the three icy moons,” adds Luigi Colangeli, coordinator of ESA’s Solar System Missions.

“NASA is thrilled to collaborate with ESA on this exciting mission to explore Jupiter and its icy moons,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for Science in Washington. “Working together with ESA and our other international partners is key to enabling future scientific progress in our quest to understand the cosmos.”

NASA invited researchers in 2012 to submit proposals for NASA-provided instruments for the mission. Nine were reviewed, with one selected to fly. NASA agreed to provide critical hardware for two of the 10 selected European-led instruments. NASA’s total contribution to the JUICE mission is $100 million for design, development, and operation of the instruments through 2033.

The NASA contributions are:

  Ultraviolet Spectrometer: The principal investigator is Randy Gladstone of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. This spectrometer will acquire images to explore the surfaces and atmospheres of Jupiter’s icy moons and how they interact with the Jupiter environment. The instrument also will determine how Jupiter’s upper atmosphere interacts with its lower atmosphere below, and the ionosphere and magnetosphere above. The instrument will provide images of the aurora on Jupiter and Ganymede.

  Radar for Icy Moon Exploration: The principal investigator is Lorenzo Bruzzone of Universita degli Studi di Trento in Italy. The U.S. lead is Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. Under the lead of Bruzzone and the Italian Space Agency, JPL will provide the transmitter and receiver hardware for a radar sounder designed to penetrate the icy crust of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto to a depth of about 5 miles (9 kilometers). This will allow scientists to see for the first time the underground structure of these tectonically complex and unique icy worlds.

  Particle Environment Package: The principal investigator is Stas Barabash of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. The U.S. lead is Pontus Brandt of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. Under the lead of Barabash and the Swedish National Space Board, APL will provide instruments to this suite to measure the neutral material and plasma that are accelerated and heated to extreme levels in Jupiter’s fierce and complex magnetic environment.

Throughout its mission, JUICE will observe Jupiter’s atmosphere and magnetosphere, and the interaction of all four Galilean satellites – the three icy moons plus Io – with the gas giant planet.

The spacecraft will perform a dozen flybys of Callisto, the most heavily cratered object in the Solar System, and will fly past Europa twice in order to make the first measurements of the thickness of its icy crust.

JUICE will end up in orbit around Ganymede, where it will study the moon’s icy surface and internal structure, including its subsurface ocean.

The largest moon in the Solar System, Ganymede is the only one known to generate its own magnetic field, and JUICE will observe the unique magnetic and plasma interactions with Jupiter’s magnetosphere in detail.

“Jupiter and its icy moons constitute a kind of mini-Solar System in their own right, offering European scientists and our international partners the chance to learn more about the formation of potentially habitable worlds around other stars,” says Dmitrij Titov, ESA’s JUICE Study Scientist.

The selection of the instruments today helps to ensure that JUICE remains on schedule for launch in 2022.

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