Inverse theory resolution analysis in planning radio science gravity investigations of icy moons
Thursday, 18 December 2014
The nature of an icy satellite's interior relates fundamentally to its composition, thermal structure, formation and evolution history, and prospects for supporting life. Gravity measurements via radio Doppler information during spacecraft flybys constitute an important tool to infer gross interior structure. Liquid water and ice layers have previously been inferred for the interiors of Jupiter's icy satellites Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto on the basis of magnetic field measurements by the Galileo probe. On Europa and Callisto induced magnetic field signatures measured by the Galileo probe provided strong evidence for an ionic aqueous ocean. Among the chief goals of the proposed Europa Clipper mission in returning to Europa is characterizing the structure of the moon's icy shell. A geophysical inverse theory resolution analysis can be calculated at the pre-measurement mission planning stage, contributing planning considerations from the point of view of the search for mass anomalies in the ice shell (meteorites or diapiric upwellings) or near the H2O/rock interface (seamounts). The analysis allows us to assess the location-varying resolution of an icy moon's interior density anomaly distribution that can be estimated from radio Doppler measurements. It considers the tradeoff between the resolution of the estimated density anomaly distribution and its estimation uncertainty, and investigates issues in distinguishing between ocean anomalies (e.g., seamounts) and mass anomalies within or near the surface of the ice layer. We apply the resolution analysis to proposed Europa Clipper trajectories and past Galileo spacecraft trajectories about Europa and Ganymede.