Europa Ganymede Short Term Funding

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

The University of Leicester Space Research Centre is studying an 'Outer Planets' version of the Auroral Imager already being built for flight on a Chinese Earth orbiting mission - 'Kuafu'. Auroral imaging is a powerful technique which provides a global picture of a planet's magnetosphere and its response to solar wind conditions (space weather). The instrument will be proposed in the framework of either a mission to Jupiter, or one to Saturn. The magnetospheres of these two gas giants are very different, and it is expected that detailed observation of their aurora will provide important tests to the current theories of how they work. The magnetosphere of a planet is the major factor that determines the radiation environment at the surface, and hence the viability of life. The instrument will employ a revolutionary technique to form an image in ultraviolet wavelengths, known as microchannel plate optics. These optics have the major advantage of being extremely lightweight - an important consideration for interplanetary space missions. They are currently being used by the University of Leicester in the terrestrial version of the Auroral Imager, and in the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer, an instrument on the European Space Agency's Bepi-Colombo mission.

Publications

10 25 50