Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development Jordan Cohen recently toured the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy Radio and Plasma Wave Group lab with the UI Juno waves investigation team.

Physics researchers in labThe research team, directed by Research Scientist Bill Kurth, and collaborators Don Kirchner, Research Engineer, and Don Gurnett, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is currently developing a radio and plasma wave instrument for the Juno spacecraft, the Jupiter polar orbiter scheduled for launch in 2011.

This Juno mission, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will conduct a first-time, in-depth study of the giant planet Jupiter. The mission will place a spacecraft in a polar orbit around Jupiter to investigate the existence of an ice-rock core, determine the amount of global water and ammonia present in the atmosphere, study convection and deep wind profiles in the atmosphere, investigate the origin of the Jovian magnetic field, and explore the polar magnetosphere.

Juno spacecraft“Juno provides a magnificent opportunity to explore the solar system’s most powerful auroras by flying directly through the current systems which drive them," says Kurth. The University of Iowa instrument will measure plasma waves important in the generation of the aurora and radio waves generated by the same process which creates the auroras.

With a mission cost of about $1 billion, Juno is a collaborative enterprise including the University of Iowa, Southwest Research Institute, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed-Martin, and a large group of universities and research labs in both the United States and Europe. Dr. Scott Bolton of Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, is the Juno principal investigator.

Click here to watch a video simulation of the Juno mission.


Jupiter with Juno spacecraft in front



Related Story: Sending Juno to Jupiter, Press-Citizen, August 31, 2010


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