Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 – 24 September 2021
Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 September – 24 September 2021


Environments of outer planet moons: particles and fields

This session focuses on the environments of outer planet moons: their atmospheres, ionospheres, plumes, aurora, magnetic fields, magnetospheric environments and moon-magnetosphere interactions. Abstracts on all outer planet moons are welcome, including the moons of Saturn and Jupiter (e.g. Enceladus, Titan, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto) and the less explored moons of Uranus and Neptune (e.g. Oberon and Triton).
Suggested topics include but are not limited to: atmospheric/ionospheric structures and compositions, plume detections and simulations, surface charging, auroral radio emissions, moon-magnetosphere interaction (e.g. wave-particle processes, particle acceleration, MHD turbulence), variability in the field and particle environments of the moons, opportunities and limitations of future JUICE and Europa Clipper measurements.
We welcome abstracts addressing the environments of outer planet moons from all disciplines, including in-situ and remote sensing data analysis, modeling and simulation results, ground-based observations and Earth-orbit-based observations. Relevant abstracts include results from past and current missions, such as Voyager, Galileo, Cassini-Huygens, Hisaki, and Juno, and studies in preparation for future missions such as JUICE and Europa Clipper.

Co-organized by MITM
Convener: Mika Holmberg | Co-conveners: Aljona Blöcker, Hans Huybrighs, Ronan Modolo, Oleg Shebanits, Ali Sulaiman

Session assets

Discussion on Slack

Oral and Poster presentations and abstracts

Chairpersons: Mika Holmberg, Hans Huybrighs, Oleg Shebanits
Christina Plainaki, Stefano Massetti, Xianzhe Jia, Alessandro Mura, Anna Milillo, Davide Grassi, and Gianrico Filacchione

The study of Ganymede, the only known moon in the Solar System to possess an intrinsic magnetic field embedded within a planetary magnetosphere, is of significant importance in view of future missions to the Jovian system. Indeed, the dynamics of the entry and circulation inside Ganymede’s magnetosphere of the Jovian energetic ions, as well as the morphology of their precipitation on the moon’s surface determine the variability of the sputtered-water release and exosphere generation. The so-called planetary space weather conditions around Ganymede can also have a long-term impact on the weathering history of its icy surface.

In this talk, I will discuss some key characteristics of the circulation of the Jovian magnetospheric ions within the environment of Ganymede as derived from the application of a single-particle Monte Carlo model driven by the electromagnetic fields from a global MHD model. In particular, the Jovian energetic ion circulation and precipitation to Ganymede’ s surface was estimated for different relative configurations between the moon’s magnetic field and Jupiter’s plasma sheet, characterized by conditions similar to those encountered during the NASA Galileo G2, G8, and G28 flybys of Ganymede (i.e., when the moon was above, inside, and below the center of Jupiter’ s plasma sheet). The resulting differences between the various surface precipitation patterns and the implications in the water sputtering rate will be discussed. The results of this preliminary analysis are relevant to ESA’ s JUICE mission and in particular to the planning of future observation strategies for studying Ganymede’ s environment.

How to cite: Plainaki, C., Massetti, S., Jia, X., Mura, A., Milillo, A., Grassi, D., and Filacchione, G.: Circulation of energetic ions within Ganymede’s magnetosphere: a Monte-Carlo simulation approach, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-828,, 2021.

Lorenz Roth, Nickolay Ivchenko, Randy Gladstone, Joachim Saur, Denis Grodent, Bertrand Bonfond, Philippa Molyneux, and Kurt Retherford

Ganymede’s tenuous atmosphere is produced by charged particle sputtering and sublimation of its icy surface. Previous far-ultraviolet observations of the OI1356 Å and OI1304 Å oxygen emissions were used to derive sputtered molecular oxygen, O2, as an atmospheric constituent. We present a new analysis of high-sensitivity spectra and spectral images of Ganymede’s oxygen emissions acquired by the COS and STIS instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope. The COS eclipse observations constrain atomic oxygen, O, to be at least two orders of magnitude less abundant than O2. We then show that dissociative excitation of water vapor, H2O, is found to increase the OI1304 Å emissions relative to the OI1356 Å emissions around the sub-solar point, where H2O is more abundant than O2. Away from the sub-solar region, the emissions are more than two times brighter at OI1356 Å than at OI1304 Å, and O2 prevails as found in previous analyses. A ~6-fold higher H2O/O2 mixing ratio on the warmer trailing hemisphere compared to the colder leading hemisphere, a spatial concentration at the sub-solar region, and the ratio-estimated H2O densities identify icy surface sublimation as a local dayside atmospheric source.
Our analysis provides the first evidence for a sublimated atmosphere on an icy moon in the outer solar system.

How to cite: Roth, L., Ivchenko, N., Gladstone, R., Saur, J., Grodent, D., Bonfond, B., Molyneux, P., and Retherford, K.: Hubble Space Telescope detects sub-solar water atmosphere on Ganymede, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-176,, 2021.

Dustin Buccino, Marzia Parisi, Ryan Park, Edoardo Gramigna, Luis Gomez-Casajus, Paolo Tortora, Marco Zannoni, Paul Steffes, Amoree Hodges, Steve Levin, and Scott Bolton


During the Galileo mission, eight radio occultations of Ganymede were made with only one strong detection of an ionosphere. On June 7, 2021, the Juno spacecraft executed a close flyby of Ganymede, the third Galilean moon of Jupiter. During this close flyby, a detection attempt of Ganymede’s elusive ionosphere was made with an Earth radio occultation. The radio science instrumentation consisted of X-band and Ka-band downlink signals referenced to an X-band uplink signal from the Deep Space Network. Electrons encountered along the radio propagation path induce a dispersive phase delay on the radio link. Taking advantage of the dispersive nature, a linear combination of X-band and Ka-band signals provided a direct measurement of the electron content along the propagation path. The ingress occultation occurred at small ram angle and egress occultation occurred at a small solar zenith angle on the sun-lit side, providing a diverse geometry for detection.


Ganymede’s ionosphere is tenuous. The atmosphere of Ganymede is predominately oxygen. It is thought the ionosphere is generated via photoionization of the neutral atmospheric oxygen from the Sun (McGrath et al 2004). The Galileo spacecraft executed a total of eight radio occultations of Ganymede throughout its mission, resulting in five non-detections, two weak detections, and one strong detection of an ionosphere. The strong ionosphere detection occurred during the Ganymede G8 ingress occultation (Kliore 1998) resulting in a peak electron density of 5,000 el/cm3 at an altitude of 16 km above the surface. Initially, the lack of detection was surprising, but it was hypothesized that positive detections occurred where the trailing hemisphere of the satellite was in sunlight; therefore, the atmosphere can be ionized by solar radiation to produce an observable ionosphere (Kliore et al 2001). Radio occultation measurements will help understand better the connection between Ganymede’s elusive ionosphere, its intrinsic magnetic field and Jupiter’s magnetosphere.


Juno Gravity Science Instrument (Asmar et al 2017) is a radio science instrument which utilizes dual-frequency X-band (8.4 GHz) and Ka-band (32 GHz) radio links between the Juno spacecraft and the Earth-based observing stations of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN).  On June 7, 2021 Juno’s extended mission trajectory will take the spacecraft on a close encounter with Ganymede at an altitude of 1000 km. An Earth occultation occurred during this flyby as shown in Figure 1. Measurement of Ganymede’s ionosphere is made via a radio occultation geometry, where the Juno spacecraft will set behind Ganymede as observed from Earth. In this way, the radio ray path propagates directly through the ionosphere of Ganymede twice, once on ingress and once on egress. During the radio occultation, Juno transmitted dual-frequency X-band and Ka-band to the DSS-43 and DSS-35 antennas at the Canberra DSN complex. Both downlink signals were referenced to a single X-band uplink signal sent from the DSS-35 antenna.

Figure 1. Occultation geometry of Juno's encounter of Ganymede on June 7, 2021, inbound to the Perijove-34 Jupiter flyby. As viewed from Earth, the spacecraft passed directly behind Ganymede for approximately 15 minutes.


The ionosphere perturbation is detectable in small changes in the received frequency. A refractivity profile is derived from the perturbations. The refractivity profile can then be inverted to determine electron density. In the link configuration used during the Ganymede flyby, two inversion techniques are available to compute the electron density from the signal frequency, with three independent analysis results:

a) X-band downlink referenced to X-band uplink (2-Way)

b) Ka-band downlink referenced to X-band uplink (2-Way)

c) Dual-Frequency X-band and Ka-band downlink (1-Way linear combination)

Methods (a) and (b) estimates the bending angle through geometric optics and the medium refractivity through an Abel transform (e.g. Withers and Moore 2020). In method (c), the integrated Total Electron Content (TEC) will be computed by combing the dual frequency measurements, given the dispersive nature of the plasma noise. In turn, this can be converted into electron density (el/cm3) via Abel Transform. The transponder configuration allows for the isolation of the plasma signature on the downlink only, analogously to a one-way measurement (e.g. Dalba and Withers 2019).


The work of DB, MP, RP, and SL was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Government sponsorship acknowledged. EG, LGC, PT and MZ are grateful to the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for financial support through Agreement No. 2017-40-H.0, and its extension 2017-40-H.1-2020, for ESA’s BepiColombo and NASA’s Juno radio science experiments. PS and AH were supported by NASA Contract NNM06AA75C from the Marshall Space Flight Center under subcontract 699054X from Southwest Research Institute.

© 2021 California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged.


  • McGrath, Melissa A., et al. "Satellite atmospheres." Jupiter: The Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere(2004): 457-483.
  • Kliore, A. J. (1998). Satellite atmospheres and magnetospheres. Highlights of Astronomy11(2), 1065-1069.
  • Kliore, A. J., Anabtawi, A., & Nagy, A. F. (2001, December). The ionospheres of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts(Vol. 2001, pp. P12B-0506).
  • Asmar, S. W., Bolton, S. J., Buccino, D. R., Cornish, T. P., Folkner, W. M., Formaro, R., ... & Simone, L. (2017). The Juno gravity science instrument. Space Science Reviews213(1), 205-218.
  • Withers, P., & Moore, L. (2020). How to process radio occultation data: 2. From time series of two-way, single-frequency frequency residuals to vertical profiles of ionospheric properties. Radio Science55(8), 1-25.
  • Dalba, P. A., & Withers, P. (2019). Cassini radio occultation observations of Titan's ionosphere: The complete set of electron density profiles. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics124(1), 643-660.

How to cite: Buccino, D., Parisi, M., Park, R., Gramigna, E., Gomez-Casajus, L., Tortora, P., Zannoni, M., Steffes, P., Hodges, A., Levin, S., and Bolton, S.: A Dual-Frequency Radio Occultation of Ganymede’s Ionosphere with Juno, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-380,, 2021.

Ronan Modolo, Claire Baskevitch, Francois Leblanc, and Adam Masters

The JUICE (JUpiter ICy moon Explorer) mission, selected by the European Space Agency in May 2012 to be the first large mission within the Cosmic Vision Program 2015–2025, will provide the most comprehensive exploration to date of the Jovian system in all its complexity, with particular emphasis on Ganymede as a planetary body and potential habitat (JUICE Red Book, 2014). The Galilean satellites are known to have thin atmospheres, technically exospheres (McGrath et al., 2004), produced by ion-induced sputtering and sublimation of the surface materials. These moons and tenuous atmosphere are embedded in the flowing plasma of the jovian. The interaction between the neutral environments of the Galilean satellites and the jovian plasma changes the plasma momentum, the temperature and generates strong electrical currents. In order to prepare the scientific return of the mission and the optimization of operation modes of plasma instruments, a modeling effort has been carried out at LATMOS (PhD R. Allioux, IRAP, 2012; L. Leclercq, LATMOS, 2015; O. Apurva, LATMOS, 2017). A 3D parallel multi-species hybrid model (Latmos Hybrid Simulation, LatHyS) has been developed to model and characterize the plasma environment of Ganymede (Leclercq et al, 2016; Modolo et al, 2016) and a 3D parallel multi-species exospheric model (Exospheric Global Model, EGM) to pattern the dynamic of the neutral envelopes of Ganymede (Turc et al, 2014; Leblanc et al, 2017). The presentation will examine the global structure of the interaction with the jovian plasma, to describe the formation of Alfvén wings, and to emphasize the phenomena related to the multi-species nature of the plasma. The simulation model supports the preparation of the JUICE mission and its Ganymede phase by characterizing boundary crossings.

How to cite: Modolo, R., Baskevitch, C., Leblanc, F., and Masters, A.: Ganymede’s interaction with the jovian plasma from hybrid simulation, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-683,, 2021.

Mika Holmberg, Fabrice Cipriani, Gregoire Déprez, Christian Imhof, Olivier Witasse, Nicolas Altobelli, and Hans Huybrighs

Ganymede is the only moon in our Solar System known to have its own global magnetic field, which generates a miniature moon magnetosphere inside the Jovian magnetosphere. Due to this unique characteristic of Ganymede, its auroral zone is also of particular scientific interest, as it is the only known example of this specific kind of interaction. The JUICE spacecraft will orbit Ganymede for almost a year, with a high inclination orbit with multiple auroral zone crossings. JUICE will study the auroral zone of Ganymede in more detail than ever before, providing both in-situ and remote sensing observations.

In this work, we use Spacecraft Plasma Interaction Software (SPIS) simulations to study the spacecraft charging of JUICE in the auroral zone. Hubble Space Telescope observations of the aurora of Ganymede show localized regions of bright spots superimposed on a continuous background emission (e.g. Feldman et al. 2000, Eviatar et al. 2001). In order to produce bright auroras, the electron population needs to be accelerated up to hundreds of eV (Eviatar et al. 2001). Preliminary simulation results, using an auroral electron population with temperature Te = 200 eV and density ne = 300 cm-3, shows frame charging (i.e. spacecraft ground) of around 10 V and differential charging of around 30 V. High frame and differential potentials can cause disturbances in both particle and electric field measurements and prevent accurate characterization of the environment. Since the auroral zone of Ganymede is of particular scientific interest, it is important to study and prepare for this kind of disturbances.



D. Feldman et al., HST/STIS ultraviolet imaging of polar aurora on Ganymede, The Astrophysical Journal, 535(2), 2000

A. Eviatar et al., Excitation of the Ganymede ultraviolet aurora, The Astrophysical Journal, 555(2), 2001

How to cite: Holmberg, M., Cipriani, F., Déprez, G., Imhof, C., Witasse, O., Altobelli, N., and Huybrighs, H.: Spacecraft charging of JUICE in the auroral zone of Ganymede, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-661,, 2021.

Jamey Szalay, Frederic Allegrini, Fran Bagenal, Scott Bolton, Bertrand Bonfond, George Clark, Jack Connerney, Robert Ebert, Vincent Hue, David McComas, Joachim Saur, Ali Sulaiman, and Robert Wilson

Jupiter’s aurora is complex and dynamic, with a large number of distinct auroral features and regions generated by multiple phenomena. Of these features, Io’s auroral signature is one of the most persistent and identifiable aurora, with a rich observational history spanning decades of remote observations. Since Juno arrived at Jupiter, providing in-situ transits through flux tubes directly connected to Io’s auroral emissions, its diverse set of instruments have revealed an even more complex and dynamic picture of Io’s auroral interaction. In this presentation, we report on Juno observations of precipitating electron fluxes connected to 18 crossings of Io’s footprint tail aurora, over altitudes of 0.15 to 1.1 Jovian radii (RJ). We will highlight how the strength of precipitating electron fluxes is dominantly organized by “Io-Alfvén tail distance”, the angle along Io’s orbit between Io and an Alfvén wave trajectory connected to the tail aurora. We will discuss how these fluxes were best fit with an exponential as a function of down-tail extent with an e-folding distance of 21˚, the acceleration region altitude likely increases down-tail, and most of the parallel electron acceleration sustaining the tail aurora occurs above 1 RJ in altitude. Finally, we will highlight how Juno has likely transited Io’s Main Alfvén Wing fluxtube, observing a characteristically distinct signature with precipitating electron fluxes ~600 mW/m2 and an acceleration region extending as low as 0.4 RJ in altitude.

How to cite: Szalay, J., Allegrini, F., Bagenal, F., Bolton, S., Bonfond, B., Clark, G., Connerney, J., Ebert, R., Hue, V., McComas, D., Saur, J., Sulaiman, A., and Wilson, R.: A new framework to explain changes in Io's footprint tail electron fluxes in the Juno era, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-272,, 2021.

Claire-Alexandra Baskevitch, Baptiste Cecconi, and Ronan Modolo

Galilean moons are embedded in Jupiter’s giant magnetosphere. The jovian plasma particles interact with the atmosphere of the moons, exchanging momentum and energy, and generate different phenoma such as aurora, electric current, etc.

The exploration of the Galilean moons, and in particular Ganymede and Europa considered as potential habitats, are listed among the main objectives of the ESA JUpiter ICy moon Explorer mission. In preparation of future observations, a simulation effort is conducted to describe the Europa moon-magnetosphere system as well as a study of radio wave propagation in the environments of Ganymede and Europa using a ray tracing code.

LatHyS is a hybrid 3D, multi-species and parallel simulation model which is based on a kinetic description of ions and a fluid description of electrons. The model is based on the CAM-CL algorithm that Alan Matthews¹ outlined in 1994. It allows to describe the interaction between the jovian plasma and the moon environments. As Ganymede's environment has already been implemented, we propose to enrich the model by completing it with Europa's – jovian plasma interaction and to optimize it in order to improve the accuracy of the results.

Artemis-P, developed by Gautier² in 2013, is a ray tracing code that calculates the trajectory of waves through a given environment. Planetary environments are anisotropic and inhomogeneous, so that radio waves can undergo refraction, reflection, scattering, diffraction, interference, etc. between the source and the detector. The ray tracing methods allow to treat the refraction and reflection phenomena at large scales compared to the wavelength. The proposed work is to adjust this program to the environments of Ganymede and Europa using data from LatHyS simulations.


Références :

1 Alan P. Matthews, Current Advance Method and Cyclic Leapfrog for 2D Multispecies Hybrid Plasma Simulations, Journal of Computational Physics, Volume 112, Issue 1, 1994, Pages 102-116, ISSN 0021-9991,

² Anne-Lise Gautier. Étude de la propagation des ondes radio dans les environnements planétaires. Planétologie et astrophysique de la terre [astro-ph.EP]. Observatoire de Paris, 2013. Français. tel-01145651v2

How to cite: Baskevitch, C.-A., Cecconi, B., and Modolo, R.: Europa’s interaction with the jovian plasma from hybrid simulation, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-617,, 2021.

Hans Huybrighs, Aljona Blöcker, Elias Roussos, Christiaan Van Buchem, Yoshifumi Futaana, Charlotte Goetz, Mika Holmberg, and Olivier Witasse

We investigate energetic proton depletions during Europa flybys E17 and E25A* by the Galileo mission. Energetic ion observations along trajectories like those of E17 & E25A are suitable for isolating the characteristics of the global configuration of the interaction region of Europa (or any Galilean moon) with the Jovian magnetosphere. Both of these flybys passed through Europa’s Alfvén wings further away from the moon, where ionospheric effects are small.

We simulate the measured flux with a Monte Carlo particle tracing code and investigate the effect of the following factors: inhomogeneous electromagnetic fields, Europa's induced dipole, atmospheric charge exchange and plumes.

We find that the homogeneous fields do not explain the Galileo data. We propose that the perturbed fields associated with the Alfvén wings affect the proton depletions. The inhomogeneous fields and induced dipole alter the pitch angle distribution of the depletion along the trajectory. The plumes that are investigated in this study have a minor effect on the proton depletions compared to the inhomogeneous fields and Alfvén wings. The contribution of atmospheric charge exchange to the depletion is negligible for these flybys. Finally, we compare the simulations to the measured proton flux and discuss the contribution of the effects we have considered.

* E25A is a segment of the Io flyby I25

How to cite: Huybrighs, H., Blöcker, A., Roussos, E., Van Buchem, C., Futaana, Y., Goetz, C., Holmberg, M., and Witasse, O.: The effect of Europa's perturbed electromagnetic fields and induced dipole on energetic proton depletions in the Alfvén wings, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-299,, 2021.

Thomas Winterhalder and Hans Huybrighs

ESA's JUpiter Icy moons Explorer (JUICE) will arrive at the Jupiter System in 2029 and perform two flybys of Europa. Here, we present the results of our investigation into JUICE's capability to detect plumes and to separate them from the background water in the atmosphere as a function of their source's location and mass flux on the Europan surface using the neutral mass spectrometer NIM. For both of the currently planned flybys we evaluate different scenarios to estimate how feasible such a detection is, using a Monte Carlo particle tracing model of a plume. We also incorporate the plume candidates reported by Roth et al. (2014), Sparks et al. (2016), Sparks et al. (2017), Jia et al. (2018), Arnold et al. (2019) and Sparks et al. (2019) into this investigation. As can be discerned in Figure 1, the first flyby trajectory is better suited to detect the potential plume candidates listed above as they are detectable down to mass fluxes of approx. 100kg/s. The second flyby depicted in the panels of Figure 2 requires mass fluxes between 100kg/s and 500kg/s for all suggested plume candidates to be detectable. Figures 1 and 2 indicate the plume water molecule density encountered during the respective flyby as a function of the plume source's location on the surface of the moon. Potential sources located within the regions marked in black do not produce a sufficiently high plume water density along the spacecraft trajectory to be separated by the probe from the background atmospheric water density. On the other hand, locations where plume sources produce a plume that the probe is able to separate from the background atmospheric water density are colour coded as to the peak plume water density encountered during flyby. The circumstance that the suggested plumes listed above lie in this region of separability down to lower mass fluxes for the first flyby is caused by that flyby's closer proximity to the locations of the suggested plume sources. These lie mainly on the southern hemisphere. Separation of water plumes from the atmospheric water vapour density is thus dependent on the mass flux of the respective plume source. The only plume separable from the background water in the atmosphere at the lowest investigated plume source mass flux of 1kg/s is the one suggested by Roth et al. (2014). It is therefore the most likely plume to be detected by JUICE.

Figure 1: Peak density of water molecules as detected by JUICE as a function of the location of the plume source on the Europan surface for different mass fluxes. The projection of the spacecraft's trajectory during its first flyby onto the moon's surface is plotted in black, the large cross marks the CA of the spacecraft. The locations of sources that produce a plume not exceeding the atmospheric density threshold in proximity to the spacecraft are masked black. A decrease in mass flux results in a shrinkage of the region of detectability. The locations of suggested plume candidates are indicated.