Exploring Europa – Jupiter’s icy moon

Exploring Europa

Europa, an icy  moon of Jupiter is the target of a future NASA mission. Three Carl Sagan Institute researchers have joined teams to develop 3 of 9 scientific instruments that will travel aboard the spacecraft, as announced by NASA May 26. (see Cornell Chronicle Story by Blaine P. Friedlander)

The Europa mission will produce high-resolution images of Europa’s surface. Jonathan Lunine is a co-investigator on the Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE) team, led by principal investigator Diana Blaney of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. This instrument will identify and map the distributions of organics, salts, acid hydrates, water ice phases and other materials to determine the habitability of Europa’s ocean.

Alex Hayes is co-investigator on the Europa Imaging System (EIS) team, led by Elizabeth Turtle of the Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland. EIS will develop wide- and narrow-angle cameras that will acquire images of Europa at up to 50-centimeter resolution and produce highly accurate three-dimensional models of the surface.

Marco Mastrogiuseppe is a co-investigator on the Radar for Europa Assessment and Sounding: Ocean to Near-surface (REASON) team, led by Donald Blankenship of the University of Texas, Austin. This dual-frequency ice-penetrating radar instrument is designed to characterize and sound Europa’s icy crust from the near-surface to the ocean, revealing the hidden structure of Europa’s ice shell and potential water within.

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