GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 43-7
Presentation Time: 3:05 PM


CAMERON, Marissa1, HAND, Kevin P.1, PHILLIPS, Cynthia B.1, PITESKY, Jo E.1, CRAFT, Kathleen L.2, HOFGARTNER, Jason D.1, HOFMANN, Amy E.1, LEONARD, Erin3, SCULLY, Jennifer1, KLONICKI, Emily3 and BROOKS, Shawn3, (1)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, (2)Space Exploration Sector, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd, Laurel, MD 20723, (3)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109

Harboring potentially habitable environments, Jupiter’s moon Europa has risen to the forefront of planetary exploration. There is a general consensus in the community that under Europa’s geologically young ice shell exists a subsurface ocean, probably in contact with a silicate seafloor -- which may lead to an ocean rich in the elements and energy needed for the existence of life. Landforms on the surface additionally suggest recent or ongoing geologic activity. As NASA moves forward with the exploration of Europa through the upcoming Europa Clipper flagship fly-by mission, efforts are also underway to mature the technologies required for a potential future mission to land on the icy surface. However, current reconnaissance data from the Galileo spacecraft resolves the surface only to length scales of 10s of meters at best, and future reconnaissance from the Europa Clipper spacecraft will resolve the surface to the meter-scale. Thus, technology development efforts are focusing on a robust landing system capable of navigating unknown lander-scale terrains to safely deliver a payload to the surface. To inform this development effort, the Europa Lander pre-project team is developing a comprehensive Terrain Specification Document (TSD) that summarizes current knowledge regarding surface characteristics such as thermal and mechanical properties, composition, topography, and environmental context. This information is used to explore the design space and requirements for lander technologies, including capabilities of the autonomous landing system, and interaction with the lander workspace on the surface. This presentation will summarize the dual science-engineering approach used to develop the structure and content of the Europa TSD, as well as lessons learned for future development of TSDs for Europa and other bodies.