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Proceedings Paper

X-ray probes of Jupiter's auroral zones, Galilean moons, and the Io plasma torus
Author(s): R. F. Elsner; B. D. Ramsey; D. A. Swartz; J. A Gaskin; P. Rehak; J. H. Waite; J. F. Cooper; R. E. Johnson
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Paper Abstract

Remote observations from the Earth orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton Observatory have shown the the Jovian system is a rich and complex source of x-ray emission. The planet's auroral zones and its disk are powerful sources of x-ray emission, though with different origins. Chandra observations discovered x-ray emission from the Io plasma torus and from the Galilean moons Io, Europa, and possibly Ganymede. The emission from the moons is due to bombardment of their surfaces by highly energetic magnetospheric protons, and oxygen and sulfur ions, producing fluorescent x-ray emission lines from the elements in their surfaces against an intense background continuum. Although very faint when observed from Earth orbit, an imaging x-ray spectrometer in orbit around the icy Galilean moons would provide a detail mapping of the elemental composition in their surfaces. Here we examine the necessary characteristics of such an instrument and the challenges it would face in the extreme radiation environment in which it would have to survive and operate. Such an instrument would have the ultimate goal of providing detailed high-resolution maps of the elemental abundances of the surfaces of Jupiter's icy moons and Io, as well as detailed study of the x-ray mission from the Io plasma torus, Jupiter's auroral zones, and the planetary disk.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 September 2005
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5906, Astrobiology and Planetary Missions, 59061B (22 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.613655
Show Author Affiliations
R. F. Elsner, Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
B. D. Ramsey, Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
D. A. Swartz, USRA/Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
J. A Gaskin, Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
P. Rehak, Brookhaven National Lab. (United States)
J. H. Waite, Univ. of Michigan (United States)
J. F. Cooper, Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
R. E. Johnson, Univ. of Virginia (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5906:
Astrobiology and Planetary Missions
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; G. Randall Gladstone, Editor(s)

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