Public Lectures

Engineering an Instrument to Investigate the Habitability of Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Published on September 18, 2017

Engineering an Instrument to Investigate the Habitability of Jupiter’s Moon Europa
Speaker:Scott Tucker
Date:Wednesday, Apr 04, 2018
Time:7:30 PM
Location:LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Seminar Abstract:

NASA has selected LASP to provide the Surface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) instrument for NASA’s mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa. The Europa Clipper will orbit Jupiter and conduct detailed reconnaissance of the moon through low-altitude flybys. SUDA’s objective is to identify the material ejected from the surface to determine if Europa could have conditions suitable for life.

Jupiter’s strong magnetic field traps radiation much like Earth’s Van Allen belts, and high-energy particles can damage spacecraft and instrument electronics. The Europa Clipper and SUDA must be engineered to operate in a radiation environment thousands of times more intense than the Earth’s, use a minimum amount of power, and survive a harshly cold thermal environment.

In his talk, Scott will present an overview of the Europa Clipper mission and the SUDA science investigation, including novel techniques employed by SUDA to make in-situ surface composition measurements from an altitude of 25 km. He will then describe how a highly sensitive instrument like SUDA must be engineered in order to operate in the harsh environment at Jupiter.

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