NASA has selected nine sophisticated science instruments which could help astronomers discover whether Jupiter’s moon Europa supports life or not. The icy moon has a vast sub-surface ocean and researchers intent to check if Europa is habitable by analyzing the ice chemistry and the water constituents.
The instruments which are going to be used for the expedition were chosen from 33 proposals and they are the following:
Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS)
This device will be used to measure the depth and salinity of Europa’s ocean and the thickness of the ice shell which is considered to be 10 kilometers thick.
Interior Characterization of Europa using Magnetometry (ICEMAG)
This instrument will be used for measuring the magnetic field of the moon. Working in collaboration with PIMS it will record electromagnetic sounds of the ocean.
Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE)
MISE will examine Europa’s composition which involves the mapping and the identification of the material distribution. The materials will include acid hydrates, water ice phases, organics and salts. By doing this MISE can establish if Europa’s ocean is habitable.
Europa Imaging System (EIS)
This device will be used for mapping the surface of Europe. EIS is said to be able to map 90% of the moon’s surface in a resolution of 164 feet (50 meters) per pixel. However for certain regions the resolution could be 100 times better.
Europa Thermal Emission Imaging System (E-THEMIS)
This is an instrument which detects heat. It will offer thermal imaging and high spatial resolution of Europe which can help with detecting vents which release water into space or similar active sites.
Radar for Europa Assessment and Sounding: Ocean to Near-surface (REASON)
This is an ice-penetrating radar system with dual frequency. Scientists will use it in order to pierce the ice shell of Jupiter’s moon.
MAss SPectrometer for Planetary EXploration/Europa (MASPEX)
MASPEX is a device designed to measure the atmosphere of Europe and collect data about the surface materials which are released into space. This will help determining what the composition of the surface and subsurface of Europa’s ocean is.
SUrface Dust Mass Analyzer (SUDA)
This instrument will focus on measuring particles which are expelled from Jupiter’s moon
Ultraviolet Spectrograph/Europa (UVS)
It has a technique similar to Hubble. UVS will search for the existence of water plumes which erupt from the surface of the moon. The device will also offer information about the composition and the dynamics of the atmosphere of Europa.
Image Source: Tech Wallpapers