Published: May 28, 2015

NASA SUDA GraphicCongratulations to Physics Professors and Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics fellow Sascha Kempf, whose proposal for a SUrface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) instrument was selected by NASA to join the upcoming landmark mission to Jupiter's moon, Europa. NASA announced their selection on Tuesday, May 26th. According to NASA, the Europa Mission will investigate whether the icy moon could possibly harbor elements which support life. NASA selected nine scientific instrument proposals that will investigate the moon's magnetic field, the thickness of the moon's icy shell, the thermal makeup of the moon, and many other factors which will point to the possibility of liquid water which may indicate the precursors of life on Europa. 

SUDA was one of nine proposals selected by NASA, from 33 proposals from around the world.

The CU-Boulder Team will consist of Sascha Kempf as Principal investigator, and will include physics Professor and LASP fellow Mihaly Horanyi (serving as Co-Investigator), and aerospace engineering Assistant Professor Zoltan Sternovsky. The instrument will be designed and built at LASP.

The instrument, known as SUDA, will directly measure the composition of solid particles released from Europa’s surface due to meteoroid bombardment. SUDA will also be able to measure the properties of small, solid particles believed to be spewing from a hidden ocean within the moon, according to Kempf. Measuring this cloud surrounding Europa will help the SUDA team better understand the moon's interior structure, and the repository of material in the water under the ice crust, according to Kempf.

SUDA will weigh about 24 pounds, much of which will consist of high-tech shielding designed to protect the instrument from radiation, and will be about the size of a lunch box, according to LASP.

NASA’s fiscal year 2016 budget request includes $30 million to formulate a mission to Europa. The mission would send a solar-powered spacecraft into a long, looping orbit around the gas giant Jupiter to perform repeated close flybys of Europa over a three-year period. In total, the mission would perform 45 flybys at altitudes ranging from 16 miles to 1,700 miles (25 kilometers to 2,700 kilometers).

According to NASA, the Europa Mission is set to launch sometime in the 2020s. In the meantime, the SUDA team will begin work in August, 2015.

View the NASA press release.

View the CU-Boulder press release.

View the 9-News (KUSA) story.

View the LASP press release.