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Research on Europa's dust cloud at The Open University's HVI Laboratory

By Katarina Miljkovic, Nigel Mason and John Zarnecki

Abstract

Space in the vicinity of Europa is populated by dust originating from its surface. Fragments of the surface are ejected due to meteroid hypervelocity impacts (but also they may originate from the sub-surface such as was found on Enceladus). It is assumed that orbit-based detection and analysis of material ejected from the Europan Surface may provide an alternative method for sampling Europan material without landing on the surface. Rleative impact speeds from these dust sources onto an in-orbit detector would, typically, be about 2 kms.This impact speed is generally too low for complete vapourisation of the impactor/target and the ejecta material could be caputured in-situ for further analysis. Our current work is aimed at the development of a new hybrid dust detector for any Europa orbiter as well as an understanding of Europa's dust cloud by mimicing micrometeoroid impact into simulated European regolith/ice. In this paper we present our latest research as well as the caility we have developed as a new laboratory in the filed of HVI physics

Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:oro.open.ac.uk:18535
Provided by: Open Research Online

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