About the Instrument
Jupiter’s moon Europa has a frozen ocean with many mysteries, including whether there is prebiotic chemistry, or indications of potential life, underneath the surface. One instrument that can help answer these mysteries is aboard NASA’s Europa Clipper mission launching in the mid-2020s: the Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE). MISE is a near-infrared spectrometer designed to operate within Jupiter’s punishing radiation environment. It will identify and map the occurrence of organic compounds, salts, acid hydrates, water ice phases, altered silicates or hot spots — signs of surface heat that might indicate ongoing geological activity. A surface map can reveal Europa’s past and present surface and subsurface geologic processes.
APL is building MISE in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to see whether this exotic ocean world is habitable and to detect signatures of life in Europa’s ocean on the icy surface, if present. From MISE measurements, planetary scientists and astrobiologists will relate this moon’s surface composition to the habitability of its ocean.