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The science goals of Europa-UVS on NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission

Presentation #311.04 in the session Future Missions and Instrumentations - Icy Bodies, Exoplanets, Stars (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
The science goals of Europa-UVS on NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission

In February of 2022 the Europa Ultraviolet Spectrograph (Europa-UVS) was delivered to JPL for integration with the Europa Clipper spacecraft, which is expected to launch in 2024. A sister instrument, JUICE-UVS, has already launched and successfully completed commissioning this year, which has enabled some early preparation for expected data acquisition, sensitivity, and data pipeline structure for the instrument on board Europa Clipper. Europa-UVS observes photons in the 55-205 nm wavelength range through a 7.5 x 0.1 plus 0.2 x 0.2 degree shaped slit. Through a variety of observational techniques including stellar occultations, disk scans, Jupiter transit observations, and neutral cloud/plasma torus stares, the Europa-UVS investigation is poised to perform a comprehensive study of Europa’s surface, atmosphere, and local space environment. The spatial distribution of the planned observations over the duration of the mission will enable searches for, and the characterization of, any current activity such as plumes on Europa. The science goals of Europa-UVS are to: 1) Search for and characterize any current activity, notably plumes or thermal anomalies, in regions that are globally distributed; and 2) Characterize the composition and sources of volatiles, particulates, and plasma, sufficient to identify the signatures of non-ice materials, especially organic compounds, in globally distributed regions of the atmosphere and local space environment.

We present an overview of the planned observational techniques for the Europa-UVS investigation, how they will accomplish the stated science goals, and how they contribute to the primary objective of the Europa Clipper mission to assess the habitability of Europa.

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