Study of the Europa environment

Following the collaboration with the German team during the AO JUICE, the Planetology team is Co-I of the SUDA instrument that has been selected (AO NASA SALOMON 2015, PI: S. Kempf, LASP, Univ. Colorado) for the NASA Europa Clipper mission (EMFM : Europa Multiple Flyby Mission). Our role is to participate in the calibration of the SUDA (SUrface Dust Analyzer) instrument through the Cosmorbitrap laboratory prototype.

To achieve this objective, the Cosmorbitrap device will be coupled to the ground experiment of F. Postberg (Univ. Heidelberg), LILBID (Laser Induced Liquid Bead Ion Desorption) which confirmed the chemical nature of the Enceladian plumes observed with the CDA on Cassini. It is an essential laboratory experiment for the characterization of such environments. The system generates microdroplets (about 50 μm in diameter) of the sample solution under vacuum, which are then irradiated by an infrared laser. The absorbed laser energy leads to the explosion of the droplet, releasing the biomolecular complex ions, which are then analyzed by a time-of-flight mass analyzer. This technique leads to gas-phase ions whose state of charge imitates that of complexes in solution. The liquid solution can be intentionally doped with minerals or organic substances. The idea is therefore to couple our Cosmorbitrap to LILBID in order to achieve a higher mass resolution. This development will make it possible to establish a library of spectra for the Europa environment as part of SUDA’s operations.