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 New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective
14.12.2017 | The Optical Society

nachricht New ultra-thin diamond membrane is a radiobiologist's best friend
14.12.2017 | American Institute of Physics

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>