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University of Iowa News Release

June 3, 2005

UI To Provide $12 Million Instrument To Explore Jupiter

University of Iowa space researchers Bill Kurth and Don Gurnett are members of a team recently selected by NASA to carry out the Juno mission to Jupiter scheduled for launch no later than June 30, 2010. Juno will explore the deep interior of Jupiter and its auroras. The focus of the University of Iowa’s participation will be a NASA-funded $12 million radio and plasma wave instrument.

NASA recently announced that Juno will proceed to a preliminary design phase. At the end of the preliminary design study, the mission must pass a confirmation review that will address significant schedule, technical and cost risks before being confirmed for the development phase.

The second mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program, Juno (named after the wife of the god Jupiter in Roman mythology) will conduct an in-depth study of Jupiter by placing a spacecraft in a polar orbit around the planet. The mission will provide insight into the origin of Jupiter by investigating the deep interior of the planet, determining the amount of global water and ammonia present in the atmosphere, studying convection and deep wind profiles in the atmosphere, investigating the origin of the Jovian magnetic field and exploring the polar magnetosphere.

Kurth, UI research scientist, is the lead investigator for the Juno Waves instrument and Gurnett, professor of physics in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will also collaborate on the project. The two say that they are excited by the scientific investigations they plan to conduct using Juno and note that their UI team has extensive previous NASA space exploration experience.

“Juno provides a magnificent opportunity to explore the solar system’s most powerful auroras by flying directly through the current systems which drive them," says Kurth. The University of Iowa instrument will measure plasma waves important in the generation of the aurora and radio waves generated by the same process which creates the auroras.

“These spacecraft projects are highly competitive, and I am pleased to be part of the winning team,” says Gurnett, who has had a long history of involvement in NASA spacecraft projects.

Recently, Gurnett and Kurth used data from the UI plasma wave instrument aboard Voyager 1, the most distant manmade spacecraft at more than 8.7 billion miles from the sun, to help determine that Voyager 1 has crossed a boundary called the “termination shock,” one of the last milestones it will encounter before entering interstellar space.

The Waves instrument on Juno will be the seventh University of Iowa instrument to make the trek to Jupiter. Previous Iowa instruments were included on Pioneers 10 and 11, Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo, and most recently Cassini, which is now in orbit around Saturn.

With a mission cost of about $700 million, Juno is a collaborative enterprise including the UI, Southwest Research Institute, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed-Martin, and a large group of universities and research labs in both the United States and Europe.

Dr. Scott Bolton of Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, is the Juno principal investigator. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., will provide mission project management, while Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. NASA selected two proposed mission concepts for study under the New Frontiers Program in July 2004 from seven submitted in February 2004 in response to an agency Announcement of Opportunity. The first New Frontiers Mission, New Horizons, will fly by the planet Pluto and its moon Charon in 2014 and then investigate a Kuiper belt object.

For information about NASA's science programs on the Web, visit: http://science.hq.nasa.gov/.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu; Program: Bill Kurth, Lead Co-Investigator, 319-335-1926, william-kurth@uiowa.edu; Don Gurnett, Collaborator, 319-335-1697, donald-gurnett@uiowa.edu