Johns Hopkins APL-Made Europa Mission Instrument Passes Critical Design Review

Jeff Brody

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has concluded critical design review of a science instrument that will support studies on Europa, a moon that orbits Jupiter.

The Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding, which is now under construction following the review, will work to measure electrically charged gasses within Europa’s ionosphere and Jupiter’s magnetosphere, JHU APL said Tuesday.

PIMS will work with eight other science instruments to support NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. The laboratory will use PIMS’ gathered data to measure the thickness of Europa’s ice shell and the body of water underneath.

Plasma, other gasses and surface ices jointly cause reactions that damage Europa and affect the Jupiter moon’s ice composition.

“In addition to vibration and shock testing, we simulated every environment that PIMS will experience from Earth to Europa, and it passed with flying colors,” said Joseph Westlake, principal investigator of PIMS.

Constructed to be protected from radiation, the instrument has two sensors to study surrounding plasma. Plasma data will complement magnetic field data to provide more information on Europa’s structure.

PIMS, which is being developed by Johns Hopkins APL, has a research team that includes representatives from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Michigan, and the University of Oregon. In addition, essential electric components will be supplied by the University of Michigan.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Europa Clipper mission.

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