Modeling the Performance of a Jupiter Electron Sensor in Strong Magnetic Fields

Southwest Research Institute
2008 – 2009
  • Vatche Sahakian

In August of 2011, NASA will launch the satellite Juno to conduct an in-depth study of the planet Jupiter. On board the satellite there are three electrostatic analyzers (ESAs) that will measure the energy and trajectory direction of electrons in Jupiter’s auroras. The behavior and performance of ESAs is well understood in the absence of a magnetic field. It was the task of this Clinic team to account for the effect of these magnetic fields. The team ran computer simulations of the ESAs in magnetic fields of varying magnitude and direction. Mathematical models were then devised for the energy of the electrons and their incoming angle relative to the direction of the magnetic field. These models can be used to translate the data that will be collected by the ESAs into a map of the spectrum of the electrons near Jupiter.

The Physics Clinic presents opportunities for students to work on practical projects relevant to industrial work. Students work on teams of 3–5 on a sponsored research or development project.