Future missions and instrumentation

Various space agencies around the world, the scientific community, and industrial partners are currently making advancements with a number of anticipated missions to the Moon, Mars, and other Solar System bodies. Each mission has a unique set of goals that calls for strategically selected instruments accommodating a diverse set of platforms, such as but not limited to, rovers, orbiters, and human explorers. This session invites presentations on a broad topic of future planetary missions and instruments, including those already in development. Our aim is to share latest progress, discuss preflight scientific results, and increase awareness for potential cooperation.

Co-organized by GI3/ST2
Convener: Gen ItoECSECS | Co-conveners: Casey HonniballECSECS, Susanne Schröder, Elliot Sefton-Nash
vPICO presentations
| Wed, 28 Apr, 09:00–10:30 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Wed, 28 Apr

Chairpersons: Elliot Sefton-Nash, Susanne Schröder, Casey Honniball
David Vogt, Susanne Schröder, Heinz-Wilhelm Hübers, Lutz Richter, Michael Deiml, Peter Wessels, and Jörg Neumann

The lunar south pole is of great interest for upcoming lunar exploration endeavors due to the detection of large reservoirs of water ice in the pole’s permanently shadowed regions [1], which could be utilized to reduce the costs of a sustained presence on the Moon [2]. A strong focus of future robotic exploration missions will therefore be on the detection of water and related volatiles. For this purpose, the project Lunar Volatiles Mobile Instrumentation – Extended (LUVMI-X) is developing an initial system design as well as payload and mobility breadboards for a small, lightweight rover [3]. One of the proposed payloads is the Volatiles Identification by Laser Analysis instrument (VOILA), which uses laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to analyze the elemental composition of the lunar surface with an emphasis on the detection of hydrogen for the inference of the presence of water. VOILA is a joint project by OHB System AG, Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V., and the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Optical Sensor Systems. It is designed to analyze targets on the lunar surface in front of the LUVMI-X rover at a variable focus between 300 mm to 500 mm, allowing for precise measurements under various measurement conditions. The spectrometer covers the wavelength range from 350 nm to 790 nm, which includes the hydrogen line at 656.3 nm as well as spectral lines of most major rock-forming elements. The breadboard laboratory setup for VOILA was recently completed and first measurements of Moon-relevant samples have been made. Here, we will show the results of these measurements and will discuss their meaning for the further improvement of the instrument design and for its potential use as a volatile-scouting instrument at the lunar south pole.

[1] Li S. et al. (2018) PNAS, 36, 8907–8912. [2] Anand M. et al. (2012) Planet. Space Sci., 74, 42–48. [3] Gancet J. et al. (2019) ASTRA 2019. [4] Knight A. K. et al. (2000) Appl. Spectrosc., 54, 331–340. [5] Maurice S. et al. (2012) Space Sci. Rev., 170, 95–166. [6] Wiens R. C. et al. (2012) Space Sci. Rev., 170, 167–227. [7] Wiens R. C. et al. (2017) Spectroscopy, 32. [8] Ren X. et al. (2018) EPSC 2018, Abstract EPSC2018-759. [9] Laxmiprasad A. S. et al. (2013) Adv. Space Res., 52, 332–341. [10] Lasue J. et al. (2012) J. Geophys. Res., 117, E1.

How to cite: Vogt, D., Schröder, S., Hübers, H.-W., Richter, L., Deiml, M., Wessels, P., and Neumann, J.: VOILA on LUVMI-X: A LIBS Instrument for the Detection of Volatiles at the Lunar South Pole, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5906,, 2021.

Marine Joulaud, Jessica Flahaut, Diego Urbina, Hemanth K. Madakashira, Gen Ito, János Biswas, Simon Sheridan, and Jeremi Gancet

Lunar volatiles, such as water, are a crucial resource for future exploration, and their exploitation should enable the use of the Moon as a platform for even more remote destinations. As water is most likely to be found in the form of ice at the lunar poles (where surface temperatures can be as low as 40K, i.e. below the H2O temperature of sublimation in vacuum, 110K), multiple upcoming missions target the south pole (SP) cold traps. PSRs (Permanently Shadowed Regions) are especially cold enough to capture and retain volatiles but present challenging access conditions (rough topography, low illumination, low temperatures, limited Earth visibility).

Funded by the EU program Horizon 2020, Space Applications Services developed the LUVMI-X rover (LUnar Volatiles Mobile Instrument eXtended), aimed at sampling and analysing lunar volatiles in the polar regions, including within a PSR. The LUVMI-X nominal payload includes an instrumented drill, the Volatiles Sampler (VS), along with a mass spectrometer, the Volatiles Analyser (VA), for surface and subsurface volatile detection and characterisation. A LIBS and a radiation detector are also included. Deployable and propellable surface science payloads are in development for inaccessible sites (e.g., some of the PSRs). This solar-powered rover has an autonomy of one or two Earth nights and can drill down to 20cm in the lunar regolith. The goal of this paper is to find suitable landing sites & traverses’ paths for this rover project, that are both scientifically interesting and technically reachable.

Available remote sensing imagery for the lunar SP was downloaded from the PDS or corresponding instruments’ websites and added into a Geographic Information System (GIS). LUVMI-X scientific objectives and technical specifications were then translated into a list of criteria and computed in our GIS using reclassifications, buffers, and intersections. Using our GIS, reclassified data were overlaid with different weights to define and rank areas meeting the compulsory criteria. A global analysis was led to select the landing sites, followed by a local analysis (based on higher resolution data) for the establishment of traverses.

The global GIS analysis allowed us to identify six regions of interest (ROI), which were compared with previous SP ROI from the literature (Lemelin, 2014; Flahaut, 2020). The identified ROI were further ranked based on areas and statistics on Sun and Earth visibilities, Diviner average surface temperatures, and H/water ice signatures (LPNS, LEND, M3).

A prime ROI located between Shackleton and the Shoemaker/Faustini ridge was selected for traverse analysis. Four landing ellipses of 2x2km were located and ranked inside the ROI. Way Points (WP) were then identified to include the following scientific interests in each traverse: a boulder casting shadows, a PSR to throw a propellable payload in, an accessible PSR to go into, etc. As several WP are possible, Earth visibility was used to select the best ones. WP were then connected by using slope maps (LOLA DEM at 5m/px: avoid slopes over 20°), Earth & Sun visibilities (avoid no-go zones) and the LROC NAC mosaics at 1m/px (avoid boulders and craters), constituting a tentative traverse.

How to cite: Joulaud, M., Flahaut, J., Urbina, D., Madakashira, H. K., Ito, G., Biswas, J., Sheridan, S., and Gancet, J.: Candidate landing sites and possible traverses at the south pole of the Moon for the LUVMI-X rover, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11678,, 2021.

Sebastian Els, Sara Almaeeini, and Hamad Almarzooqi

The Emirates Lunar Mission is developing the small and light weight "Rashid" rover. The goals for this rover are to traverse several hundred meters on the lunar surface during the course of one lunar day. The Rashid rover's science objectives cover both fundamental science as well as engineering topics with the goal to enable future missions to the lunar surface, and other airless solar system bodies. Hence, Rashid will carry a suite of scientific instruments and an experiment, covering a wide range of the physical properties at the lunar surface. The focus of investigation for the microscopic imager (CAM-M) will be to measure the regolith particle size distribution, and the lunar surface structure at microscopic scales. The Langmuir probe system (LNG) will address  the  electron density profile of the sheath, its behavior over the course of the lunar day, and its dependence on topographic features.  A thermal imager (CAM-T) with low spatial resolution is also foreseen. Finally, the in-situ testing of the adhesive and abrasive properties of various materials to lunar regolith is planned to be conducted by the MAD experiment.  In this paper the science program and instrumentation of the Rashid mission will be outlined.

How to cite: Els, S., Almaeeini, S., and Almarzooqi, H.: The science system on-board the Emirates Lunar Mission's Rashid rover, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12950,, 2021.

Sara Almaeeni, Sebastian Els, and Hamad Almarzooqi

The United Arab Emirates has announced its first space mission to the moon by 2024. The Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM) consists of a micro rover, named Rashid, has a main objective of traversing the mid-latitude landing site and obtaining high resolution images of the lunar surface. Such an objective necessitates careful designs of the architecture and the different systems involved to ensure smooth integration and proper operation.

The rover weigh around 10Kg and has 4 wheels that are designed to climb slopes of 20 degrees and rocks of maximum height of 10cm. Also, it is equipped with 2 wide field cameras that will be used for navigation and to increase the environmental awareness while the operator drives the rover remotely. Moreover, the rover is powered by the solar panels which are mounted in a certain angle to maximize the collecting of the solar energy. After the collection and battery charging, various regulated voltages are distributed to all subsystems.  

The Rashid rover is designed with two communications channels. The primary communications channel is the main channel used during the mission and allows for high speed bandwidth and low power consumption (on the rover). The secondary communications channel uses more power and is slower, but is not dependent on the lander and is therefore used as a backup as well as the lunar night recovery phase.

Despite being a small rover and its prime goal being a technology demonstrator, Rashid’s scientific instrument suite is substantial. The science instruments will provide data of the lunar surface environment allowing to investigate a vast variety of topics like geology of the Moon, lunar surface alteration mechanisms, Interaction of the soil with the solar wind and material suitability for future lunar missions. In this paper, the ELM mission, the rover subsystems as well as the science instruments are described in details.

How to cite: Almaeeni, S., Els, S., and Almarzooqi, H.: The Rashid rover: to guide the way for the next generation lunar missions and solar system exploration, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14732,, 2021.

Donald Hendrix

With the Artemis mission set to launch in 2024, returning humans to the lunar surface for the first time in over half a century, it is imperative to ensure human health and safety on a variety of fronts. Lunar dust exposure is one of many areas of concern regarding astronaut health and safety. During the Apollo missions it was reported that lunar dust was a nuisance and induced allergic-like symptoms upon exposure. In addition, it was also reported that instruments became coated with dust that was difficult to remove, and that the dust adhered to everything and tore through space suit fabric. Numerous inhalation studies have determined that lunar dust is more toxic than analogous terrestrial materials but less so than silica dust. Apollo dust mitigation systems were successful on some missions but failed on others. As humans are to stay on the lunar surface for extended periods relative to the Apollo missions, it is vital to fabricate instruments that would address the lunar dust problem with greater reliability. There must be multiple steps to remove all lunar dust, including the ultra-fine <10 µm fraction which was the most difficult dust size to remove. There must be multiple steps regarding lunar dust removal including a chamber to remove dust and de-suit, and a vacuum with high level HEPA filtration to remove dust. The first chamber would be to filter out any dust that comes into the module from the outside. Once all the air is clear, then the next step would be to remove any remaining dust on the suits using a hand-held vacuum with a HEPA H14 filter which only allows up to a maximum 0.005% of particles 100 nm in size to pass through the filter. Then, it would be safe to de-suit. It would be wise to have a second chamber between the first chamber and the command center of the lunar module that would vacuum any remaining dust before opening to the main command chamber. Ultra-high quality HEPA filters of both the chamber and hand-held vacuum systems should be replaced frequently to maintain optimal dust mitigation. Investing time and resources into lunar dust mitigation should be a top priority for the upcoming Artemis mission to avoid the issues encountered on the Apollo missions.

How to cite: Hendrix, D.: The importance of lunar dust mitigation during future human led lunar missions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10478,, 2021.

Maria Genzer, Maria Hieta, Harri Haukka, Antti Kestilä, Ignacio Arruego, Victor Apéstigue, Javier Martinez Oter, Alejandro Gonzalo, Manuel Reina, Cristina Ortega, Carmen Camañes, Iñigo Sard, Manuel Dominguez-Pumar, Jose Antonio Rodriquez Manfredi, Servando Espejo, Hector Guerrero, and Matti Talvioja

MiniPINS (Miniature Planetary IN-situ Sensors) is an ESA study led by the Finnish Meteorological Institute to develop and prototype miniaturised surface sensor packages for Mars and the Moon. The study aims at miniaturising the scientific sensors and subsystems, as well as identifying and utilizing commonalities of the packages, allowing to optimise the design, cut costs and reduce the development time. This presentation includes the main results from Phase A study and Preliminary Requirements Review of MiniPINS.

Mars In-Situ Sensors (MINS) is a concept based on the strong heritage of the MetNet lander. MINS mission consists of 4 scientific observation posts on the Martian surface, about 25 kg each. The MINS landers will travel to Mars aboard the carrier spacecraft provided by another mission. Several concepts for MINS penetrators were studied in Phase 0, and finally 2 concepts were chosen for the final selection. The concept selection was driven by the target penetration depth, as this parameter is deeply influenced by the penetrator design.

The MINS concept of 0.5 m penetration depth was selected by means of a trade-off. The selected concept is a rigid probe concept, similar to MetNet penetrator.  Its development level is quite high, and its scope is compatible with MINS mission. This concept is limited from the scientific point of view, as it does not allow to penetrate so far in Martian subsoil; but its more advantageous from the criticality point of view as it has a higher development level and is less complex. The concept allows to perform majority of the scientific measurements, as all science goals except the heat flow measurement, can be accomplished also in shallow depth. 

Lunar In-Situ Sensors (LINS) is a new concept of a scientific mission package to investigate the Lunar surface and environment. LINS missions consist of 4 surface stations, 7 kg each, deployed on the Moon by a rover. In the case of LINS thermal and power design are the major drivers of the LINS architecture definition because of the Moon extreme environment, owed in part to the long lunar night period. The most relevant decision with regard to the LINS package is whether to include a RHU or not. In the absence of an RHU, the thermal and power subsystems become strongly compromised. Incorporation of an RHU offers many advantages. Consequently, the incorporation of the RHU is the selected concept for LINS.
The two main concepts for mechanical structure of the LINS were evaluated: monocoque structure with legs and double structure without legs. A design concept was chosen that consists of a double structure, so that there is an internal and an external one. The external one acts as an exoskeleton for the internal and is separated from it by blocks. The separation between the two structures provides some space to accommodate additional thermal insulation if necessary.



The MiniPINS (Miniaturized Sensor Packages and Delivery Systems for In-situ Exploration) Contract is carried out and funded by the European Space Agency activity no. 1000025265 in the “ESA-Star” System. 

How to cite: Genzer, M., Hieta, M., Haukka, H., Kestilä, A., Arruego, I., Apéstigue, V., Martinez Oter, J., Gonzalo, A., Reina, M., Ortega, C., Camañes, C., Sard, I., Dominguez-Pumar, M., Rodriquez Manfredi, J. A., Espejo, S., Guerrero, H., and Talvioja, M.: MiniPINS - Miniature Planetary In-situ Sensors, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11282,, 2021.

Maxim Mokrousov, Dmitriy Golovin, Igor Mitrofanov, Alexander Kozyrev, Maxim Litvak, Alexey Malakhov, Anton Sanin, Vladislav Tretyakov, and Artem Anikin

The series of ADRON instruments are developed in Russian Space Research Institute (IKI) for Russian Luna-25, Luna-27 and Roscosmos-ESA ExoMars-2022 landers. The main goal of this experiment is studying of elemental composition of planetary sub-surface down to 1 m. Using pulsing neutron generator and observing albedo after-pulse neutron and gamma-ray emission from the soil, one can detect layering stratification of hydrogen and mass fractions of other elements.

Both instruments consist of two blocks: pulsing neutron generator (PNG) with 14 MeV neutron pulse duration around 1 microsecond, and detector block with neutrons and gamma-ray detectors based on 3He counters and CeBr3 (LaBr3) scintillator, respectively. 3He counters allow to detect thermal and epithermal neutrons, which are the most sensitive to hydrogen in underlying soil, and gamma-ray detector allows to detect nuclear lines at the energy range from 200 keV up to 10 MeV. Readout and digital electronics is designed to minimize the dead-time of signal processing. It allows to accumulate the after-pulse profiles of emission of neutrons and gamma-rays with very good time (from 2 microsecond) and spectral resolutions (about 4 % for 662 keV).

The results of laboratory measurements and numerical simulations for ADRON units will be presented for post-pulse emission of neutrons and gamma rays from the planetary soil with different water content, elementary composition and layering structure.


How to cite: Mokrousov, M., Golovin, D., Mitrofanov, I., Kozyrev, A., Litvak, M., Malakhov, A., Sanin, A., Tretyakov, V., and Anikin, A.: ADRON instrument for future missions to Moon and Mars: active neutron and gamma-ray spectroscopy, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11505,, 2021.

Imanol Torre-Fdez, Teresa Fornaro, Julene Aramendia, and Ann Ollila and the Mars2020 SuperCam-Raman Science Group

One of the main objectives of the Perseverance rover is to find signs of ancient life in the Martian surface, seeking biosignatures and signs of past habitable conditions. This could be achieved with the finding of organic compounds related to life. Raman spectroscopy is among the techniques that the rover is capable of performing, which is able to detect and discern organic molecules. Perseverance carries in its payload two instruments that are able to use this technique, SuperCam for remote sensing and SHERLOC for proximity measurements. SuperCam is a long-distance instrument capable of performing several techniques (Raman, LIBS, luminescence, VISIR, microphone) in order to assess the chemical and molecular composition of rocks (mineral phases and organic molecules) from a distance up to 7 m. Therefore, it could detect organics, or traces of them, from a distance before the rover gets closer.

In this work, a set of Mars soil analog samples were analyzed using the Flying Model-Body Unit / Engineering Qualification Model-Mast Unit (FM-BU/EQM-MU) setup of SuperCam. Specifically, the samples were prepared in the laboratory by adsorbing adenosine 5’-monophosphate, L-glutamic acid, L-phenylalanine, and phthalic acid with different known concentrations (5 wt%, 1 wt% and 0.1 wt%) on the clay mineral montmorillonite doped with 1 wt% of Mg-perchlorate. The preparation and characterization of those samples can be found in literature [1]. The analyses were carried out at a 2 m distance from the targets, with a laser spot size of around 300 µm at that distance. SuperCam showed excellent results for the pure compounds, before adsorption on the clay mineral. At 5 wt% concentration, the Raman signals of the organics were barely visible and at 1 wt% they were no longer visible. This fact means that if the laser of SuperCam hits an organic “hotspot” in a rock from a distance, it will be able to detect it as long as it has a concentration around 5 wt% or greater in the analyzed area, allowing SHERLOC to do further contact analysis afterwards. In addition, the SuperCam results were compared with those obtained with a commercial laboratory instrument (Renishaw inVia), obtaining the same main signals and only missing some minor secondary bands.

[1] T. Fornaro, J. R. Brucato, G. Poggiali, M. A. Corazzi, M. Biczysko, M. Jaber, D. I. Foustoukos, R. M. Hazen, A. Steele, UV irradiation and Near Infrared characterization of laboratory Mars soil analog samples, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, 2020, 7, 1-20

How to cite: Torre-Fdez, I., Fornaro, T., Aramendia, J., and Ollila, A. and the Mars2020 SuperCam-Raman Science Group: Analysis of organic compounds in Mars soil analog samples using SuperCam-Raman of Mars2020, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8701,, 2021.

Wolf-Stefan Benedix, Dirk Plettemeier, Christoph Statz, Yun Lu, Ronny Hahnel, and Valérie Ciarletti

The WISDOM ground-penetrating radar aboard the 2022 ESA-Roscosmos Rosalind-Franklin ExoMars Rover will probe the shallow subsurface of Oxia Planum using electromagnetic waves. A dual-polarized broadband antenna assembly transmits the WISDOM signal into the Martian subsurface and receives the return signal. This antenna assembly has been extensively tested and characterized w.r.t. the most significant antenna parameters (gain, pattern, matching). However, during the design phase, these parameters were simulated or measured without the environment, i.e., in the absence of other objects like brackets, rover vehicle, or soil. Some measurements of the rover's influence on the WISDOM data were performed during the instrument's integration.

It was shown that the rover structure and close surroundings in the near-field region of the WISDOM antenna assembly have a significant impact on the WISDOM signal and sounding performance. Hence, it is essential to include the simulations' environment, especially with varying surface and underground.

With this contribution, we outline the influences of rover and ground on the antenna's pattern and particularly on the footprint. We employ a 3D field solver with a complete system model above different soil types, i.e., subsurface materials with various combinations of permittivity and conductivity.

How to cite: Benedix, W.-S., Plettemeier, D., Statz, C., Lu, Y., Hahnel, R., and Ciarletti, V.: WISDOM Antenna Pattern in the presence of Rover and Soil, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14846,, 2021.

Olivier Witasse and the JUICE teams

JUICE - JUpiter ICy moons Explorer - is the first large mission in the ESA Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. The mission was selected in May 2012, and is currently in full integration and testing phase. Due to launch in June 2022 and to arrive at Jupiter in October 2029, it will spend at least three ½ years making detailed observations of Jupiter and three of its largest moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.  The status of the project and the main milestones for 2021 are presented.

The focus of JUICE is to characterise the conditions that might have led to the emergence of habitable environments among the Jovian icy satellites, with special emphasis on the three worlds, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto, likely hosting internal oceans. Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System, is identified as a high-priority target because it provides a unique and natural laboratory for analysis of the nature, evolution and potential habitability of icy worlds and waterworlds in general, but also because of the role it plays within the system of Galilean satellites, and its special magnetic and plasma interactions with the surrounding Jovian environment.

JUICE will also perform a multidisciplinary investigation of the Jupiter system as an archetype for gas giants. The Jovian atmosphere will be studied from the cloud top to the thermosphere. Concerning Jupiter’s magnetosphere, investigations of the three dimensional properties of the magnetodisc and of the coupling processes within the magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere will be carried out. JUICE will study the moons’ interactions with the magnetosphere, gravitational coupling and long-term tidal evolution of the Galilean satellites.

The JUICE payload consists of 10 state-of-the-art instruments plus one experiment that uses the spacecraft telecommunication system with ground-based instruments. A remote sensing package includes imaging (JANUS) and spectral-imaging capabilities from the ultraviolet to the sub-millimetre wavelengths (MAJIS, UVS, SWI). A geophysical package consists of a laser altimeter (GALA) and a radar sounder (RIME) for exploring the surface and subsurface of the moons, and a radio science experiment (3GM) to probe the atmospheres of Jupiter and its satellites and to perform measurements of the gravity fields. An in situ package comprises a powerful suite to study plasma and neutral gas environments (PEP) with remote sensing capabilities of energetic neutrals, a magnetometer (J-MAG) and a radio and plasma wave instrument (RPWI), including electric fields sensors and a Langmuir probe. An experiment (PRIDE) using ground-based Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) will support precise determination of the spacecraft state vector with the focus at improving the ephemeris of the Jovian system.

The key milestones in 2021 are:

  • - Implementation reviews of the ground segment and of the science ground segment
  • - Integration of the remaining instruments
  • - Spacecraft flight model environmental acceptance test campaign: thermal, EMC, mechanical
  • - Spacecraft flight model end-to-end communication tests with ESOC
  • - Start of the mission qualification acceptance review

How to cite: Witasse, O. and the JUICE teams: JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer): A European mission to explore the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15330,, 2021.

Michael Stelzig, Jan Audehm, Ben Burgman, Fabian Becker, Lutz Deriks, Clemens Espe, Marco Feldmann, Gero Francke, Pia Friend, Niklas Haberberger, Dirk Heinen, Chi Thanh Nghe, Lars Schickendanz, Simon Zierke, Christopher Wiebusch, Klaus Helbing, Georg Böck, and Martin Vossiek

Recent measurements suggest the Jovian satellite Europa as one of the most promising places to host extraterrestrial life in the Solar System. In a global ocean, well hidden by  a thick layer of ice, this moon supposedly contains more than twice as much liquid water than Earth. Many currently discussed space missions therefore aim to explore Europa’s chemical composition or investigate its habitability and even search for biosignatures.
The TRIPLE Project, initiated by the DLR Space Administration, comprises the development of Technologies for Rapid Ice Penetration and subglacial Lake Exploration and consists of three distinct components: (i) a melting probe, that travels through the ice and carries (ii) an autonomous nano-scale underwater vehicle (nanoAUV) that explores the ocean and takes samples to be delivered to (iii) an astrobiological laboratory. The full system should be tested in a terrestrial analog scenario in Antarctica in approximately five years as a demonstration for a future space mission. For a successful test we need a retrievable melting probe capable of penetrating several kilometres of ice while avoiding obstacles and navigating around them. It has to be able to stop and dwell at the ice-water boundary, before returning back to the surface.

This contribution focuses on TRIPLE-IceCraft and TRIPLE-FRS in which key technologies of such a melting probe are developed. 

The TRIPLE-IceCraft melting probe is designed as a modular transfer system to transport standardised payloads through ice sheets of several hundred meters of thickness and penetrate into a subglacial water reservoir. Possible payloads are e.g. the nanoAUV or in-situ analysis devices for water samples such as a fluorescence spectrometer. The melting probe will be demonstrated at the Ekström shelf ice in Antarctica at the end of the project. 


The forefield reconnaissance system developed in TRIPLE-FRS combines radar and sonar techniques to benefit from both sensor principles inside ice. The radar antennas together with a specialized pulse amplifier as well as a piezoelectric acoustic transducer will directly be integrated into the melting head. To account for the respective propagation speed of electromagnetic waves, which is dependent on the surrounding ice structure, an in-situ permittivity sensor will additionally be developed. With this system, obstacles as well as the ice-water interface at the bottom of the icy layer could be detected. In order to prove the functionality and the performance of the system, several field tests on alpine glaciers will be performed during the project.

The successful demonstration of the described subsystems and key technologies represents a first milestone in the TRIPLE project line which will serve as a baseline design for the future development of space missions to Ocean Worlds as e.g. Europa.

How to cite: Stelzig, M., Audehm, J., Burgman, B., Becker, F., Deriks, L., Espe, C., Feldmann, M., Francke, G., Friend, P., Haberberger, N., Heinen, D., Nghe, C. T., Schickendanz, L., Zierke, S., Wiebusch, C., Helbing, K., Böck, G., and Vossiek, M.: Melting and forefield reconnaissance technologies within TRIPLE -  accessing subglacial water reservoirs for future missions to Ocean Worlds, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15333,, 2021.

Miriam Pavlista, Janine Bönigk, Fabian Klenner, Maryse Napoleoni, Jonathan Hillier, Nozair Khawaja, Marie Dannenmann, Eberhard Klauck, Bernd Abel, Karen Olsson-Francis, and Frank Postberg

Detecting and identifying biosignatures is key to the search for life on extraterrestrial ocean worlds. Saturn’s moon Enceladus emits a plume of gas and water ice grains, formed from its subsurface ocean, into space. A similar phenomenon is suspected to occur on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Impact Ionization mass spectrometers, such as the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) onboard the past Cassini mission or the Surface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) on board the upcoming Europa Clipper mission, can sample the emitted ice grains, rendering the ocean accessible for compositional analysis by spacecraft flybys. The CDA data collected in the Saturnian system showed that Enceladus’ ocean is salty [1] and contains a variety of organic material, such as complex macromolecules [2] and low mass volatile compounds, the latter of which potentially act as amino acid precursors and are capable of interacting within or near Enceladus’ hydrothermal vent system [4], or Enceladus’ porous rocky core [5]. Although these findings enhance Enceladus’ relevance as a potential habitable environment, biosignatures have so far not been identified.

Interpreting the space-based icy grain data requires on-ground calibration via analogue experiments. The Laser Induced Liquid Beam Ion Desorption (LILBID) technique is capable of accurately reproducing the mass spectra of ice grains recorded in space [6]. Previous LILBID experiments have shown that bioessential molecules, namely amino acids, fatty acids, and peptides can be detected in the ice grains [7], and that abiotic and biotic formation processes of these molecules can be distinguished from each other [8]. The next steps are to investigate whether building blocks of bacteria, such as membrane lipids – indicators for earthlike microbial life - can also be detected in ice grains and characterized using future impact ionization mass spectrometers. To predict their spectral appearance in impact ionization mass spectra, high sensitivity LILBID experiments on extracts from Escherichia Coli and Sphingopyxis alaskensis were performed. Spectra of lipids, and the corresponding aqueous phases produced during their extraction, potentially containing polar molecules, were produced using increasingly NaCl-rich matrices, designed to mimic the salty ocean of Enceladus or Europa.

In the mass spectra, we identify fragments characteristic for the building blocks of bacteria, such as fatty acids deriving from the bacteria’s membrane lipids. Sensitivity to lipid fragments and polar molecules decreases with rising salt concentration. These spectra, as well as those of other biosignatures,  have been incorporated into a comprehensive database, to provide comparable analogue data of a wide range of compounds applicable to future impact ionization mass spectrometers.





[1] Postberg et al. (2009) Nature 459:1098–1101, [2] Postberg et al. (2018) Nature 558:564–568, [3] Khawaja et al. (2019) Mon Not R Astron Soc 489:5231–5243, [4] Hsu et al. (2015) Nature 519:207– 210, [5] Choblet at al. (2017) Nat Astron 1:841-847, [6] Klenner et al. (2019) Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 33:1751–1760, [7] Klenner et al. (2020) Astrobiology 20:179–189, [8] Klenner et al. (2020) Astrobiology 20: 1168–1184.

How to cite: Pavlista, M., Bönigk, J., Klenner, F., Napoleoni, M., Hillier, J., Khawaja, N., Dannenmann, M., Klauck, E., Abel, B., Olsson-Francis, K., and Postberg, F.: Experiments for the detection of microbial biosignatures in ice grains from Europa and Enceladus, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15475,, 2021.

Audrey Chatain, Alice Le Gall, Michel Hamelin, Jean-Jacques Berthelier, Ralph D. Lorenz, Rafik Hassen-Khodja, Jean-Pierre Lebreton, and Grégoire Déprez

Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is the place in the Solar System showing the most Earth-like landscapes. Titan’s dense atmosphere and cold temperatures enable a complex methane hydrological cycle that have shaped the surface, very similarly to the water cycle on Earth. Titan has another peculiar feature: a wealth of organic grains is created by photochemistry in its atmosphere and progressively deposited at its surface. Such atmospheric production of organics likely occurred on Earth before the apparition of life; that is the reason why a better understanding of the formation processes, chemical composition and physical properties of these grains is of great interest.

The Dragonfly mission has recently been selected by NASA to explore Titan’s surface with a rotorcraft circa 2035 (Lorenz et al., 2018). Dragonfly will explore a region of organic sand dunes with monthly flights of a few kilometres each aiming to an impact crater named Selk. In addition to chemical analyses, Dragonfly is equipped with several sensors intended to characterize its environment. Among them, as part of the Dragonfly Geophysical and Meteorological (DraGMet) package, the EFIELD instrument will record the AC electric field at low frequencies (~5-100 Hz).

EFIELD consists in two spherical electrodes accommodated at different locations on the rotorcraft. The main scientific objective of EFIELD is to measure Schumann Resonances on Titan. Such resonances may have been detected by the Huygens probe in 2005 (unless it was an artefact of probe motion; Lorenz and Le Gall, 2020) and would be an indication of the existence of an underground global salty ocean (Beghin et al., 2012). Another scientific objective of EFIELD is the detection and characterization of charged grains. This work is dedicated to this secondary objective.

The exploration area of Dragonfly is covered by sand grains, most likely organic in nature, maybe mixed with ice. Surface winds can sometimes put them in saltation or suspension. In the process, these organic grains are likely to get charged by friction (triboelectric effect; Méndez-Harper et al., 2017), and would then induce a perturbation on the electric field detectable by the EFIELD antennas. To estimate the significance of this perturbation and test the possibility to measure it, we have built a numerical model that simulates the trajectory of charged particles in the probe environment, subjected to turbulent wind flows, gravity and electrostatic forces. First results show that charged particles will induce a strong measurable signal on the EFIELD spectra. We are thus currently investigating how these spectra can be used to derive information on the grains (number, charge, size or density). On Titan, EFIELD will work in synergy with wind sensors and a microscopic imager that will observe grains deposited at the surface.

The next steps in our simulations will be to account for the perturbations induced by the nearby body of Dragonfly. In parallel, we are building a prototype antenna to test it and check the ability of our model to reproduce its measurements in the laboratory and in the frame of field campaigns.

How to cite: Chatain, A., Le Gall, A., Hamelin, M., Berthelier, J.-J., Lorenz, R. D., Hassen-Khodja, R., Lebreton, J.-P., and Déprez, G.: Detection of charged organic grains at the surface of Titan with the EFIELD/DraGMet sensor on board Dragonfly, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12900,, 2021.

Geraint H. Jones, Colin Snodgrass, and Cecilia Tubiana and the The Comet Interceptor Team
Comet Interceptor was selected in 2019 as the European Space Agency's next planetary mission, to which the Japanese space agency, JAXA, will make a major contribution. The mission is ESA's first Fast (F) project, and its primary science goal is to characterise, for the first time, a long period comet, preferably dynamically-new, or an interstellar object. An encounter with one of these objects for the first time will provide valuable data to complement that from all previous comet missions, which have by necessity studied short-period comets that have evolved during their time orbiting near the Sun from their original condition. Planned measurements of the target include its surface composition, shape, and structure, its dust environment, and the composition of the gas coma. A unique, multi-point ‘snapshot’ measurement of the comet- solar wind interaction region is to be obtained, complementing single spacecraft observations made at other comets. The spacecraft will be delivered to Sun-Earth Lagrange Point L2 with the ESA Ariel mission in 2029, a relatively stable location suitable for later injection onto an interplanetary trajectory to intersect the path of its target. A suitable new comet would be searched for from Earth prior to launch, and after launch if necessary, with short period comets serving as a backup destinations. With the advent of powerful facilities such as the Vera Rubin Observatory, the prospects of finding a suitable comet nearing the Sun are very promising. The possibility may exist for the spacecraft to encounter an interstellar object if one is found on a suitable trajectory. When approaching the target, two sub-spacecraft – one provided by ESA, the other by JAXA, would be released from the primary craft. The main spacecraft, which would act as the primary communication point for the whole constellation, would be targeted to pass outside the hazardous inner coma, making remote and in situ observations on the sunward side of the comet. The two sub-spacecraft will be targeted closer to the nucleus and inner coma region. We shall describe the science drivers, planned observations, and the mission’s instrument complement, to be provided by consortia of institutions in Europe and Japan.

How to cite: Jones, G. H., Snodgrass, C., and Tubiana, C. and the The Comet Interceptor Team: The Comet Interceptor Mission, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15188,, 2021.

Jędrzej Baran, Hanna Rothkaehl, Nicolas Andre, Uli Auster, Vincenzo Della Corte, Niklas Edberg, Marina Galand, Pierre Henri, Johan De Keyser, Ivana Kolmasova, Marek Morawski, Hans Nilsson, Lubomir Prech, and Martin Volwerk

The flyby of a dynamically new comet by ESA-F1 Comet Interceptor spacecraft offers unique multi-point opportunities for studying the comet's dusty and ionised cometary  environment in ways that were not possible with previous missions, including Rosetta. As Comet Interceptor is an F-class mission, the payload is limited in terms of mass, power, and heritage. Most in situ science sensors therefore have been tightly integrated into a single Dust-Field-Plasma (DFP) instrument on the main spacecraft A and on the ESA sub-spacecraft B2, while there is a Plasma Package suite on the JAXA second sub-spacecraft B1. The advantage of tight integration is an important reduction of mass, power, and especially complexity, by keeping the electrical and data interfaces of the sensors internal to the DFP instrument.

The full diagnostics located on the board of the 3 spacecrafts will allow  to modeling the comet environment and described the complex physical processes around the comet and on their surface including also the  description of wave particle  interaction in dusty cometary plasma. 

The full set of DFP instrument on  board the Comet Interceptor  spacecraft will allow to model  the comet plasma environment and its interaction with the solar wind. It will also allow to describe the complex physical processes taking place including wave particle  interaction in dusty cometary plasma . 

On spacecraft A, DFP consists of a magnetometer, a Langmuir and multi impedance probe/electric field instrument, an ion and an electron analyzer, a dust sensor, and a central data processing unit and electronics box. On spacecraft B2, the instrumentation is limited to a magnetometer and a dust sensor. The choice of sensors and their capabilities are such that it maximizes synergies and complementarities. 

To give one example: While the dust instrument aims at establishing the dust spectrum for millimeter to micrometer sized particles, the Langmuir probes aided by the data processing unit will analyze the signatures of micrometer to nanometer sized particles.

Moreover, unique multi-point measurements will be obtained from magnetometers on the three spacecraft, from dust sensors on A and B2, and from ion measurements on A and B1.

The tight integration of dust-field-plasma sensor hardware and science targets embodied by DFP promises an optimized science return for the available resources.

How to cite: Baran, J., Rothkaehl, H., Andre, N., Auster, U., Della Corte, V., Edberg, N., Galand, M., Henri, P., De Keyser, J., Kolmasova, I., Morawski, M., Nilsson, H., Prech, L., and Volwerk, M.: The challenges of  the Dust-Field-Plasma  (DFP) instrument onboard ESA  Comet Interceptor mission , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14541,, 2021.

Karl Laundal, Jeng-Hwa Yee, Jesper Gjerloev, Heikki Vanhamäki, Jone Reistad, Michael Madelaire, and Kareem Sorathia

The auroral electrojet is traditionally measured remotely with magnetometers on ground or in low Earth orbit (LEO). The sparse spatial coverage of measurements, combined with a vertical distance (~100 km to ground and typically >300 km to LEO satellites) means that smaller scale sizes cannot be detected.  Because of this, our understanding of the spatiotemporal characteristics of the electrojet is incomplete. Recent advances in measurement technology allow us to overcome these limitations by multi-point remote detections of the magnetic field in the mesosphere, very close to the electrojet. We present a theoretical prediction of the magnitude of these disturbances, inferred from the spatiotemporal characteristics of magnetic field-aligned currents. We further discuss how the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE) satellites that will carry Zeeman magnetic field sensors will be used to essentially image the equivalent current at unprecedented spatial resolution.  The electrojet imaging is demonstrated by combining carefully simulated measurements with a spherical elementary current representation using a novel inversion scheme.  This new capability will allow us to finally resolve long-standing controversies such as – what is the substorm current wedge configuration?

How to cite: Laundal, K., Yee, J.-H., Gjerloev, J., Vanhamäki, H., Reistad, J., Madelaire, M., and Sorathia, K.: Electrojet estimates from mesospheric magnetic field measurements, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9255,, 2021.

Thorben Löffler, Jona Petri, René Fléron, Peter Thejll, and Sabine Klinkner

The Earth Albedo is one of the important parameters in the study of climate change. In this work, the scientific background and mission analysis of a space based earthshine-telescope to observe Earth Albedo using relative photometry on the Moon with an accuracy of 0.1% is presented. The earthshine, which is the sunlight reflected from Earth on the Moon, is proportional in intensity to the surface-averaged Earth Albedo. This gives an advantage over LEO observations of Earth’s surface in that a global average can only be constructed from such data by overcoming difficult and well-known issues in surface reflectance studies.  A measurement with ground-based telescopes is limited by atmospheric variability, even at the best high-altitude sites; thus, a spaceborne instrument is proposed, which provides an increase in scientific performance. ROMEO, a satellite for research in Low and Medium Earth Orbit developed by IRS, serves as a test platform for the JULIET instrument. The JULIET instrument is the first space-based earthshine-telescope, developed by the DTU. A preliminary analysis is done to verify the feasibility of carrying JULIET on ROMEO. The orbit simulation software ASTOS is used to gather realistic observability time of the moon in different orbits.  Furthermore, an optical analysis shows that the scientific performance of JULIET can exceed that of current ground-based Earth Albedo measurements. This mission is seen as the precursor of further decades-long observations of Earth Albedo using a space-based earthshine-telescope. The data will raise the accuracy of current Earth Albedo measurements by one order of magnitude and thus contribute towards increasing the overall accuracy of climate data.

How to cite: Löffler, T., Petri, J., Fléron, R., Thejll, P., and Klinkner, S.: Feasibility study of high precision measurement of Earth Albedo in space, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5621,, 2021.

Wojtek Hajdas, Radoslaw Marcinkowski, Hualin Xiao, and Ronny Kramert

The LGR High Energy Particle Spectrometer HEPS for the ESA Lagrange mission belongs to the satellite in-situ instrument suite. The satellite will be placed at the Lagrange point L5 for space weather measurements and real-time observations and alerts. The HEPS instrument with its six detector subsystems will enable the detecting of electrons, protons, and heavy ions at high flux conditions during Solar Energetic Particle Events. The electron and proton detection systems rely on standard telescope techniques covering energy ranges from 100 keV to 15 MeV and 3 MeV to 1 GeV respectively. Two sets of telescopes will be installed facing opposite directions along the Parker spiral. Additional detector with a wide angular range will enable measurements of angular distributions of particles traveling towards the satellite from the Sun. The HEPS heavy-ion telescope HIT represents a new design utilizing a set of scintillators and SiPM light converters. HIT electronics is equipped with a dedicated radiation-tolerant ASIC optimized for low power use and fast signal detections. The first model of HIT was developed and verified for spectroscopic measurements and ion identification. We report on test measurements as well as Monte Carlo simulations of the whole instrument. Results will be discussed and implications on the final design of the instrument provided.

How to cite: Hajdas, W., Marcinkowski, R., Xiao, H., and Kramert, R.: High Energy Particle Spectrometer for ESA Lagrange mission, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15975,, 2021.