Ganymede Orbiter Mission to Search for an Internal Ocean, 15-R9843Printer Friendly Version
Inclusive Dates: 07/01/08 – 06/30/10
Background - SwRI started a preliminary concept study for a Ganymede orbiter mission to address the question: Does Ganymede have an internal ocean under its icy surface? Ganymede's intrinsic magnetic field is unique among planetary satellites, to our current knowledge, and may be used to probe its interior to search for a sub-surface ocean similar to the one thought to exist on its neighbor Europa. After NASA joined together with the European Space Agency (ESA) in a joint Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) architecture plan, with the Europeans providing a Ganymede Orbiter mission very similar to SwRI's design, the project plans were changed accordingly in early 2009. SwRI's preliminary concept study for a Ganymede orbiter mission was redirected to an instrument design study for ultraviolet spectrograph (UVS) instruments for the NASA-led Jupiter Europa Orbiter (JEO) and ESA-led Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter flagship opportunities.
Approach - Mission concept work included definition of science goals, measurements, and potential payload instrumentation, and included in-house use of orbital dynamics tools for calculating potential orbit trajectories and fuel requirements. SwRI conducted several UVS instrument trade studies. Together with a proposal science team, science objectives were defined for UV spectroscopy in the Jupiter system.
Accomplishments - The results of the completed UVS instrument trade studies provide excellent preparation for upcoming NASA announcements of opportunity for investigations on the EJSM missions anticipated in early to mid 2011.