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The Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS) on Europa Clipper

Presentation #311.05 in the session Future Missions and Instrumentations - Icy Bodies, Exoplanets, Stars (Poster)

Published onOct 23, 2023
The Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS) on Europa Clipper

Characterizing Europa’s subsurface ocean is critical to assessing Europa’s habitability. Measurements of the magnetic field induced in the conducting Europan ocean by Jupiter and its magnetosphere is a proven technique that has successfully demonstrated the existence of subsurface oceans at Io (magma), Europa, and Callisto. In the case of Europa, the dynamic, magnetized plasma flow in the Jovian magnetosphere causes severe magnetic perturbations comparable to those of the induced field strength. Thus, characterization of the ocean by magnetic sounding requires an accurate specification of how the plasma properties change as this external plasma flows across and around Europa. We have therefore developed the Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS) for the Europa Clipper mission slated to launch in October 2024 onboard a Falcon Heavy rocket. This presentation describes the final work in the development, calibration, and test of the PIMS instrument. The PIMS measurements will be used to enhance our knowledge of the Jovian environment near Europa’s orbit and the interaction of Europa’s tenuous atmosphere and surface with Jupiter’s plasma and magnetic field. These scientific advances will be used to improve models that will enable a highly accurate separation of the magnetic fields due to induction in Europa’s interior from the highly variable magnetic perturbations due to the plasma interactions exterior to this moon. In this manner, PIMS will return new plasma science while also enabling the full potential of the induction technique in probing Europa’s interior to be realized.

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