JUICE (PEP and RPWI)
The largest project ever for IRF is part of the European Space Agency mission JUICE, Jupiter ICy Moons Explorer. On board, two out of ten instruments will be Swedish and developed by IRF. On April 14, 2023 at 14.14 Swedish time, Juice was launched to Jupiter and its icy moons Europa, Callisto and Ganymede.
IRF in Kiruna is responsible for the Particle Environment Package instrument (PEP), while IRF in Uppsala is leading the Radio and Plasma Wave Investigation (RPWI).
Jupiter with its icy moons forms a kind of solar system in miniature, which Juice will investigate using ten instruments. The scientists hope to get some answers on how a solar system forms and ESA’s overall goal with Juice is to be able to answer if there are conditions for life under the frozen oceans found on the icy moons.
Juice is now on a roughly eight-year journey before the spacecraft arrives at the gas giant Jupiter with its extremely powerful magnetic field. Jupiter’s atmosphere consists mostly of hydrogen and helium gas, like the Sun.
Juice will reach Jupiter in 2030 and start doing measurements. It will do close fly-bys of three of Jupiter’s icy moons, and orbit (and finally crash on) the largest of Jupiter’s moons, Ganymede. The information collected by the instruments on board will be analysed and will contribute to scientific discoveries until at least 2050.
The cost of Juice is estimated to be between five and 10 billion euros. The European Space Agency (ESA) heads the Juice project and IRF has received funding from the Swedish National Space Agency to develop its two instruments. More than 15 European countries, as well as the United States and Japan, participate in the work.
The instrument PEP
PEP, the Particle Environment Package, will study the interaction between space and Jupiter’s icy moons. The instrument with its various sensors will investigate how neutral and charged particles, such as ions, electrons and atoms, behave in the magnetosphere and the electrical fields contained in the Jupiter system.
The instrument RPWI
RPWI, the Radio and Plasma Wave Investigation, will measure magnetic and electric fields on Jupiter’s moons in order to draw further conclusions about how the magnetosphere works and especially how magnetic fields can give rise to new phenomena. It is hoped that RPWI will help map out any ocean currents under the icy crusts of the moons.