Log in

No account? Create an account
Sauntering Vaguely Downward [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

Serious Business | Flickr
Bounty Information | Wanted Dead or Alive: Mad Scientess Nanila
Deeds of Derring-Do | Full of Wild Inaccuracies and Exaggerations

Jupiter as gas giant archetype: Progress on the Europa-Jupiter System Mission [20100527|13:57]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , , ]

I wrote up a short summary of a science meeting I attended in Noordwijk, the Netherlands this week during which the potential Europa-Jupiter System Mission, projected launch date 2020, was discussed. I thought perhaps some of you might be interested in reading it.

Jupiter as gas giant archetype: Progress on the Europa-Jupiter System Mission

Participants from around the world came to the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, from 17-19 May 2010 to discuss the research potential of the Europa-Jupiter System Mission (EJSM). EJSM has been designed to study the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants using Jupiter as an archetype. Its baseline form consists of two primary flight elements: the Jupiter Europa Orbiter (JEO), led by NASA, and the Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter (JGO), led by ESA.

JEO: image from NASA
The meeting opened with an overview of the objectives of EJSM. The development status of each of the spacecraft, JGO and JEO, was presented in detail, with emphasis on the planned trajectories. Senior scientists outlined strategies for addressing critical questions about the oceans and internal structure of the Galilean moons, their geology, composition and space environment. What are the depths and extent of the liquid water oceans on Europa, Ganymede and Callisto? What processes occurred during their evolution to produce such large differences in the internal and surface structures of the four moons? To what extent do exchange processes between the Jovian magnetosphere and the moons’ exospheres influence their atmospheres and surfaces?

JGO: image from NASA
Stimulating discussions followed each session. The potential for complementary and synergistic observations proved to be a recurring theme and strengthened the reasoning behind a two-spacecraft mission. Exciting examples included simultaneous remote/in situ scenarios such as one spacecraft performing remote sensing measurements of volcanic activity on Io while the other is in the torus making in-situ measurements of the plasma response. Simultaneous in situ scenarios could yield interesting results. For instance, while JGO is in orbit around Ganymede, JEO will make multiple flybys of the moon, permitting synchronous observation of activity in Ganymede’s intrinsic magnetic field (JGO) and its interaction with Jupiter’s surrounding magnetic field (JEO). Complementary ground measurements, spacecraft-to-ground and spacecraft-to-spacecraft occultations also provide opportunities to investigate phenomena such as atmospheric activity at Jupiter and Europa and particle size populations in Jupiter’s rings.

Subsequent short talks covered diverse topics ranging from the space plasma environment into the deep interiors of the moon and from fast processes such as auroral dynamics to those occurring on a geological time scale, such as space weathering of impact craters. The poster sessions focused on instrument design and justification for EJSM. Measurement ranging capabilities and technical design aspects, particularly radiation tolerances, were prime considerations.

JMO: image from JAXA
Potential companion Japanese and Russian missions, the Jupiter Magnetospheric Orbiter (JMO) and the Europa Lander, also present prospects for multipoint measurements and synergistic science. If JMO enters the Jovian system in 2028, JEO and JGO will be localized around their respective moons. With its plasma imaging package and high inclination orbits, JMO provides an excellent platform to observe the environment in which the moons are embedded. The Russian Europa Lander mission, a spacecraft comprised of an orbiter and a lander with shallow sub-surface access capabilities, will search for signatures of life in Europa’s crust. It will investigate Europa during JEO’s orbital tour and help establish the geophysics and chemistry of the surface and exosphere.

The meeting demonstrated the viability of the necessary technology for EJSM, the strength of the science case and the commitment of the international community to supporting it.

EJSM Science Meeting attendees, 18 May 2010

If anyone is interested in delving into a serious amount of further reading, you can access PDFs of most of the presentations (10-15 minutes long) online. I don't recommend going past Sessions 1 through 4 for anyone who isn't specializing in planetary science, as the talks become subfield-specific after that point. You can get to them here.

[User Picture]From: sekl
2010-05-27 16:47 (UTC)
I love it when a planet is dissected down to the core!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-06-02 14:06 (UTC)
And so it will be if the plan comes together.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: bowtomecha
2010-05-28 08:42 (UTC)
Europa, Ganymede and Callisto all have oceans? I did not know that.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: pbristow
2010-05-28 20:45 (UTC)
The real question, of course, is how much is beachfront land selling for?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: bowtomecha
2010-05-28 21:05 (UTC)
The same amount as in Arizona I think.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-06-02 14:07 (UTC)
Er, that depend on whether or not you like your beachfront property to be fully submerged.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-06-02 14:12 (UTC)
Well, this has all been determined from indirect evidence so it's not completely certain yet. They're highly variable in terms of their viability for supporting life, though.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-06-02 15:05 (UTC)
I wish I had the energy to pursue multiple careers. As it is, I'm pretty much a dilettante at everything except ops engineering, and that includes planetary science. I probably know more than the average person on the street about that and chemical dynamics and kinetics. Sadly, none of these things is likely to make me either rich or famous. :-P
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2010-05-28 18:39 (UTC)
I love reading your science posts, but since I got a B- in Astronomy in college and haven't had any science that isn't "this fossil feature on that hominid fragment" since, I usually just absorb what you're saying.

I do love the social aspects of science though (that's the "culture" part of anthropology there).
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-06-02 14:14 (UTC)
Someday you need to come to a conference with me as an observer. I bet you could get at least three papers on the subject of OMG AWKWARD out of a case study of space physicists.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2010-05-29 06:17 (UTC)
Weird - for some reason I missed this, so I'm glad you mentioned it...

So what exactly is your role in all of this?

And in the big photo, you're about a third of the way from the left, a few away from the lady in the bright red jacket?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-06-02 14:16 (UTC)
My role? That's an interesting question. At the moment it's "facilitator of smooth-running operations". Right now that's an administrative role. I'm sure as the mission matures, it'll get more technical.

And you're right about where I am! It helps that I dressed all in black that day.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: painted_dreams
2010-05-30 04:56 (UTC)
I'm very curious about a lot of the sciences... Unfortunately, I think my mind is incapable of digesting and understanding a lot of it. I love reading about space and biology but there comes a point when I feel so thick in the head.

But when you post about your work I look forward to reading the entries.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-06-02 14:41 (UTC)
Thank you. I don't mind if the finer points of SRS SCIENCE posts escape others' attention, really - I'm happy with "Ooh, shiny!" responses too!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)