If you think about how Europe, the satellite of Jupiter, is suitable for life, then many questions immediately arise. For example, who the hell can survive in such harsh conditions? The Jovian moon has only a thin atmosphere, literally baked by radioactive radiation. And is there an ocean under its ice shell? Is the crust too thick between the liquid and the solid surface? And how do we get answers to all the questions of interest, if the foot of a person has not yet stepped on Jupiter?
In October last year, NASA convened 10 leading universities, which presented the results of their technical and economic studies of this satellite. These results will form the basis of a new mission to Europe, launched in the 2020s. Currently, scientists at these universities are working on the Cubesat satellite concept. These tiny satellites have so far been used only in low earth orbit. However, the final choice in favor of these satellites has not yet been made. Perhaps NASA would prefer a different concept for a new mission.
Radiation and dust (Stanford University)
Challenging the movie “2010: Odyssey Two”, a team of scientists from Stanford University decided to focus on measuring the level of radiation and dust that covered Europe with a 100-kilometer thick blanket. The mission will last about 20 hours, after which certain measurements will be made and samples taken. It is assumed that the dust on Europe is formed as a result of the fall of meteorites. “The results obtained will allow us to take a fresh look at the principles of planetary defense,” said Siddharth Krishnamurti, a graduate student at Stanford University. “At the same time, the researchers and the equipment will be in relative safety, since the ice crust is strong enough to withstand external influence.”
Atmosphere (University of New Mexico)
The European environment harbors a lot of secrets. And during the short mission it is planned to reveal as many of them as possible. The device “CubeSat” will speak out against the fine atmosphere of Europe and, having slowed down its movement for a while, will collect the maximum of available information. In addition, an ion energy detector will be mounted on board, which will help establish the behavior of charged particles near the surface.
“One team member has hands-on experience with atmospheric braking on the surface of Mars,” said Nancy Shanovere, an astronomer and lead investigator for the mission at the University of New Mexico.
Landing surface (University of Southern California)
A very ironic suggestion is to use “CubeSat” for simple measurements on the surface of the Earth. However, as is known, landing on other objects of the solar system is extremely difficult. Therefore, to facilitate this process, it is proposed to use a miniature device “Nanowire”, which allows you to create a preliminary image of the surface of Europe for other missions. “As shown by the results of the Rosette / Phil descent vehicle, landing on a comet or a small asteroid is extremely difficult and risky,” writes Joseph Wang, a senior mission researcher and astronaut engineer at the University of Southern California. “If the use of a miniature device is successful, we will be able to design a“ Cubesat ”based on it, and also debug landing methods to avoid other mistakes.”
Magnetic Field (University of Michigan)
The magnetic field of Europe opens a small window through which you can look at its Hidden Ocean. Looking at the oscillation of the magnetic fields of the satellite during its movement around Jupiter, the researchers draw an analogy with the deep, salty ocean.
“Using small satellites is a particularly interesting alternative to traditional spacecraft that recently visited the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn,” writes Casey Stoyer, a graduate student at the University of Michigan studying space instruments.
The widest set of tools on board the Galileo and Cassini undoubtedly opened the door for expert research in several areas at once. However, these ice satellites should be investigated from orbital and descent vehicles, and not only during flight missions.
Interaction with Europa Clipper (University of Arizona)
Despite the fact that scientists have not yet decided what to do, they understand what goals they face. And the main one is the coordinated work of individual instruments and tools in a single spacecraft heading towards Europe. Special protection of electronics from radiation exposure will ensure stable and safe operation in harsh environments. However, the final decision on the set of necessary tools has not yet been made. Considered immediately several possible complete sets.
Yekan Tanga, an associate professor who heads a team of scientists from the University of Arizona, states: “The interaction of Europe with Jupiter’s magnetic field is quite different from conventional models. The satellite itself has no magnetic field. However, there is no exact data on this yet. ”