MAGnetism and Gravity Investigation at Europa

The Mini-MAGGIE (MAGnetism and Gravity Investigation at Europa) was a concept design study to study the feasability of sending a 3U CubeSat with the Europa Clipper mission. The concept was for the satellite to operate from Europa orbit and contain three instruments, a transponder, a magnetometer, and a wide-angle camera. The magnetic field would be monitored continuously, with data transmitted back to the primary spacecraft (Europa Clipper) when it approaches Europa for its scheduled flybys. When the primary spacecraft was within reception range of the CubeSat, careful monitoring of the CubeSat's tracking signal can be used to study Europa's gravity field, atmospheric column, and surface topography.

Besides instrumentation and satellite design, there were several unique challenges in this study. First, how to generate the necessary power to run the satellite's instrumentation. The above video shows how mechanical engineering students designed a deployable structure to provide enough solar panel surface area. Second, how to make a CubeSat survive the harsh Jupiter radiation environment. Physics students studied how to most effectively shield a small satellite from the harsh radiation encironment. Last, how to get MAGGIE into europa orbit. The Clipper will be in Jupiter orbit, performing occasional flybys of Europa. To improve scientific outcome, it would be desirable to put MAGGIE into Europa orbit. Students investigated the propulsion requirements for MAGGIE to propel itself into Europa orbit after being ejected from the Clipper.

This project was supported by a small grant from JPL.