Friday, January 20, 2017

Juno's science instruments

The image from NASA's Juno website (Image credit NASA/JPL)


















My last post was on July 5, 2016 ("Juno's mission to Jupiter"). I know that it has been quite a while, but I'm now back to keeping in touch with other ESP teachers through this blog. I hope to - once again - post an idea about once a week.

In that last post, I wrote about the Juno spacecraft mission that is orbiting the planet Jupiter until summer 2017. On NASA's website for the Juno mission there is a lot of specific information about the technical aspects of the spacecraft and of the mission.

NASA's Juno mission website:
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html

Section of website Spacecraft and Instruments:
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/spacecraft/index.html

The information from this section about what Juno's scientific payload consists of:
  • a gravity/radio science system
  • a six-wavelength microwave radiometer for atmospheric sounding and composition
  • a vector magnetometer
  • plasma and energetic particle detectors (JADE and JEDI)
  • a radio/plasma wave experiment (Waves)
  • an ultraviolet imager/spectrometer (UVS)
  • an infrared imager/spectrometer (JIRAM)
  • a color camera (JunoCam) to provide the public with the first detailed glimpse of Jupiter's poles

Interesting practice for students would be to describe what these instruments do and/or how they work.

The descriptions on the website section are short, but are good examples of how to succinctly explain the purpose/function of a scientific instrument. In addition, there are useful verb-noun collocations (which I have highlighted in boldface).
  • Gravity Science and Magnetometers: Study Jupiter's deep structure by mapping the planet's gravity field and magnetic field
  • Microwave Radiometer: Probe Jupiter's deep atmosphere and measure how much water (and hence oxygen) is there.
  • JEDI, JADE and Waves: Sample electric fields, plasma waves and particles around Jupiter to determine how the magnetic field is connected to the atmosphere, and especially the auroras (northern and southern lights).
  • UVS and JIRAM: Using ultraviolet and infrared cameras, take images of the atmosphere and auroras, including chemical fingerprints of the gases present.
  • JunoCam: Take spectacular close-up, color images.

There are also good examples of explaining the purpose or reason for certain features of the instruments' design. Some examples:
  • ... spinning makes the spacecraft's ppointing extremely stable and easy to control.
  • Juno will be the first solar-powered spacecraft designed by NASA to operate at such a great distance from the sun, thus the surface area of solar panels required to generate adequate power is quite large.
  • Before launch, the solar panels will be folded into four-hinged segments so that the spacecraft can fit into the launch vehicle.
  • Juno will avoid Jupiter's highest radiation regions by approaching over the north, ...
  • With a mission design that avoids any eclipses by Jupiter, minimizes damaging radiation exposure and allows all science instruments to be taken with the solar panels facing the sun, solar power is a perfect fit for Juno.
  • To protect sensitive spacecraft electronics, Juno will carry the first radiation shielded electronics vault, a critical feature for enabling sustained exploration in such a heavy radiation environment.
  • This feature of the mission is relevant to NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, which addresses the need for protection against harsh radiation in space environments beyond the safety of low-Earth orbit.

While I tend to focus on useful language features of this information, my students find the information itself most interesting. And that, of course, increases their motivation to read the material.

No comments:

Post a Comment