An Impacting Descent Probe for Europa and the other Galilean Moons of Jupiter

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
November 7, 2017
Filed under
An Impacting Descent Probe for Europa and the other Galilean Moons of Jupiter
Probe Design

We present a study of an impacting descent probe that increases the science return of spacecraft orbiting or passing an atmosphere-less planetary body of the solar system, such as the Galilean moons of Jupiter.

The descent probe is a carry-on small spacecraft (< 100 kg), to be deployed by the mother spacecraft, that brings itself onto a collisional trajectory with the targeted planetary body in a simple manner. A possible science payload includes instruments for surface imaging, characterisation of the neutral exosphere, and magnetic field and plasma measurement near the target body down to very low-altitudes (~1 km), during the probe's fast (~km/s) descent to the surface until impact. The science goals and the concept of operation are discussed with particular reference to Europa, including options for flying through water plumes and after-impact retrieval of very-low altitude science data. All in all, it is demonstrated how the descent probe has the potential to provide a high science return to a mission at a low extra level of complexity, engineering effort, and risk. This study builds upon earlier studies for a Callisto Descent Probe (CDP) for the former Europa-Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) of ESA and NASA, and extends them with a detailed assessment of a descent probe designed to be an additional science payload for the NASA Europa Mission. P. Wurz, D. Lasi, N. Thomas, D. Piazza, A. Galli, M. Jutzi, S. Barabash, M. Wieser, W. Magnes, H. Lammer, U. Auster, L.I. Gurvits, W. Hajdas
(Submitted on 7 Nov 2017)

Comments: 34 pages, 11 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Journal reference: Earth, Moon, and Planets 120(2), (2017) 113-146
DOI: 10.1007/s11038-017-9508-7
Cite as: arXiv:1711.02452 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1711.02452v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Peter Wurz
[v1] Tue, 7 Nov 2017 13:16:55 GMT (4271kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻