A multifluid magnetohydrodynamic simulation of the interaction between Jupiter’s magnetosphere and its moon Europa

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 08:00
2009 (Moscone West)
Martin Rubin1, Xianzhe Jia2, Kathrin Altwegg1, Michael R Combi2, Lars K. S. Daldorff2,3, Tamas I Gombosi4, Krishan K Khurana5, Margaret Kivelson5, Valeriy Tenishev6, Gabor Toth2, Bart van der Holst2 and Peter Wurz1, (1)University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, (2)University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, (3)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (4)Univ of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, (5)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (6)University of Michigan Ann Arbor, AOSS, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
Jupiter’s moon Europa is believed to contain a subsurface water ocean whose finite electrical conductance imposes clear induction signatures on the magnetic field in its surroundings. The evidence rests heavily on measurements performed by the magnetometer on board the Galileo spacecraft during multiple flybys of the moon. Europa’s interaction with the Jovian magnetosphere has become a major target of research in planetary science, partly because of the potential of a salty ocean to harbor life outside our own planet. Thus it is of considerable interest to develop numerical simulations of the Europa-Jupiter interaction that can be compared with data in order to refine our knowledge of Europa’s subsurface structure.

 In this presentation we show aspects of Europa’s interaction with the Jovian magnetosphere extracted from a multifluid magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) code BATS-R-US recently developed at the University of Michigan. The model dynamically separates magnetospheric and pick-up ions and is capable of capturing some of the physics previously accessible only to kinetic approaches. The model utilizes an adaptive grid to maintain the high spatial resolution on the surface required to resolve the portion of Europa’s neutral atmosphere with a scale height of a few tens of kilometers that is in thermal equilibrium. The model also derives the electron temperature, which is crucial to obtain the local electron impact ionization rates and hence the plasma mass loading in Europa’s atmosphere.

We compare our results with observations made by the plasma particles and fields instruments on the Galileo spacecraft to validate our model. We will show that multifluid MHD is able to reproduce the basic features of the plasma moments and magnetic field observations obtained during the Galileo E4 and E26 flybys at Europa.