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Investigations of Moon-Magnetosphere Interactions by the Europa Clipper Mission

Presentation #201.01 in the session Future Missions, Instrumentations and Facilities - Part 1 (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Investigations of Moon-Magnetosphere Interactions by the Europa Clipper Mission

The influence of the Jovian space environment on the Galilean moons is multifaceted, and observations of moon-magnetosphere interaction by the Europa Clipper will provide an understanding of the satellites’ interior structure and compositional makeup among others. The variability of Jupiter’s magnetic field at Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto induces electric currents within the moons’ conducting ocean layer, the magnitude of which depends on the ocean’s location, extent, and conductivity. The Galilean moons are also embedded in a flow of corotating plasma and energetic particles, which continuously impacts and sputters the surfaces to produce the moons’ atmosphere. In addition, micrometeorite impacts eject particles of the surface to wrap the moons in clouds of dust. The neutral atmospheres are readily ionized by energetic particles to produce an ionosphere, which gives rise to current systems electromagnetically connecting the moons to their host planet. The Europa Clipper mission will observe the causes and effects of Europa’s interaction with its space environment using a suite of in-situ and remote-sensing instruments. The Europa Clipper Magnetometer (ECM) will measure magnetic fields generated by currents induced in Europa’s subsurface ocean and the electromagnetic coupling of the moon to Jupiter. The Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS) will measure ions and electrons in Europa’s ionosphere to infer plasma currents and coupling between Europa and Jupiter. The MAss Spectrometer for Planetary Exploration (MASPEX) measures trace neutral species to determine the composition of Europa’s atmosphere. The SUrface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) will map the chemical composition of particles ejected from Europa’s surface and identify the makeup of potential plumes by directly sampling microscopic particles. The spacecraft’s Radiation Monitor will provide engineering-grade spectral and total dose measurements of the energetic particles comprising the Jovian radiation environment. Finally, remote sensing instruments will enable studies of how these particles change the composition and microstructure of the surface. Observations made by Europa Clipper during 49 Europa flybys, combined with complementary data acquired by the JUICE spacecraft is expected to provide a comprehensive picture of the interaction of the Galilean moons with Jupiter’s magnetosphere. We present the highlights of the moon-magnetosphere interaction science we seek to unravel with the Europa Clipper mission and the primary investigations involved in these studies.

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