Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rosetta And New Horizons Watch Jupiter

Date:
April 2, 2007
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
ESA's Rosetta and NASA's New Horizons are working together 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.

This ultraviolet image of Jupiter was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on 26 November 1998. The bright emissions above the dark blue background are auroral lights, similar to those seen above the Earth's polar regions. The aurorae are curtains of light resulting from high energy electrons following the planet's magnetic field into the upper atmosphere, where collisions with atmospheric atoms and molecules produce the observed light.
Credit: NASA, ESA & John T. Clarke (University of Michigan)

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.

Related Articles


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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Rosetta And New Horizons Watch Jupiter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070330100645.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2007, April 2). Rosetta And New Horizons Watch Jupiter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070330100645.htm
European Space Agency. "Rosetta And New Horizons Watch Jupiter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070330100645.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins