Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rosetta and New Horizons watch Jupiter in joint campaign

02.04.2007
ESA’s Rosetta and NASA’s New Horizons are working together in their joint campaign to observe Jupiter. A preliminary analysis of the data from Rosetta’s Alice ultraviolet spectrometer indicates that the data quality is excellent and that good science is expected to follow.

New Horizons made its closest approach to Jupiter on 28 February 2007. Its principal objective was to use the gravity of the giant planet to slingshot it onwards to its rendezvous with Pluto, planned for 2015. However, as Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas (USA), and New Horizon’s Principal Investigator says, “We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to study Jupiter’s meteorology, rings, aurorae, satellites, and magnetosphere.”

Rosetta, just after having swung by Mars and while on its way to comet 67P-Churyumov Gerasimenko, played an important role in this research, providing global observations of Jupiter’s aurora and the Io plasma torus that can be correlated with New Horizons’ detailed in-situ measurements.

Rosetta’s observation of Jupiter began on the same day as the New Horizons swingby. Because Rosetta is presently close to Mars and Jupiter is still far away, to some of the instruments the giant planet is just a pinprick of light. Nevertheless, Rosetta’s Alice instrument splits this light into a spectrum, in which the separate contributing regions can be distinguished.

“We have now clearly separated the three components that make up the spectrum,” says Alice team member Andrew Steffl, Southwest Research Institute. The first component is simply sunlight, reflecting off Jupiter’s cloud tops. The second part of the spectrum is composed of ultraviolet emission given off by particles ejected in volcanic eruptions by Jupiter’s moon Io. The third is light from Jupiter’s aurorae, caused by particles striking the planet’s atmosphere, some from the Sun, some ejected from Io.

Alice is an ultraviolet imaging spectrometer, designed to analyse the composition and density of gas molecules, and an almost identical Alice UVS instrument is on New Horizons. Rosetta’s Alice will measure the rates at which water vapour, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are given off by comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, after the rendezvous in 2014. New Horizons’ Alice instrument will study the tenuous atmosphere at Pluto in mid-2015.

“New Horizons cannot observe Jupiter using its Alice instrument at the moment,” says Joel Parker, also at the Southwest Research Institute, and Alice Project Manager. This is because New Horizons’ Alice would have to be pointed back at Jupiter, towards the Sun. If bright sunlight fell into the instrument, it could damage the sensitive optics. Hence the scientists will not take the risk.

Instead, other instruments on New Horizons can detect the actual particles that are trapped in Jupiter’s magnetic field, but to better understand this data, spectra of Jupiter’s aurora and the Io torus are also needed. This is where Rosetta’s Alice makes its important contribution.

Some of the things the team will be looking for are solar wind events. These are gusts in the number of electrically charged particles that the Sun gives out. When they strike the magnetic field of Jupiter, they can cause the aurora to shine more brightly. Rosetta’s Alice will see this, too, and the team can then look for changes in the particles detected by New Horizons. “This is a really nice synergy between the two projects,” says Parker.

Rosetta’s observations are set to continue until 8 May, and when complete, will include some 400 hours worth of observations. Using Rosetta’s Alice is proving to be invaluable to the team in their preparations for the 2014 comet rendezvous. “Every time we use the instrument, we learn more about how to get the most out of it when we arrive at the comet,” says Parker.

Gerhard Schwehm | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Rosetta/SEMHFHT4LZE_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>