31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 25. Science and Technology of Future Space Missions II
Special Contributed Oral Parallel Session, Tuesday, October 12, 1999, 10:30am-12:00noon, Sala Kursaal

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[25.07] Europa Orbiter Mission (Invited)

T. V. Johnson (Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech)

The next mission planned for the Jupiter system is the Europa Orbiter mission, a component of the Outer Planets/Solar Probe Project. It is planned for launch in 2003, with arrival at Jupiter in 2006-07 and Europa orbit insertion 1-2 yrs afterward. The Group 1 (highest priority) science objectives are: 1.)Determine the presence or absence of a subsurface ocean, 2.)Characterize the three-dimensional distribution of any subsurface liquid water and its overlying ice layers, and 3.)Understand the formation of surface features, including sites of recent or current activity, and identify candidate landing sites for future lander missions.

The payload, to be selected by NASA in the Fall of 1999, is expected to include a remote sensing package, including some form of altimetry, and an ice-penetrating radar. A key to the identification and characterization of a subsurface ocean is the response of Europa's outer layers to the diurnal tides raised by Jupiter. Therefore, the mission must be capable of precise geodetic measurements, including the tidal effects on the satellite's gravitational field and shape.

This work was carried out at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract from NASA.

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