Ball Aerospace Partners with ASU to Develop E-THERMIS System for NASA’s Europa Mission

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation will support principal investigator Dr. Philip Christensen at Arizona State University to develop a Thermal Emission Imaging System for a NASA exploration mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter.

The mission’s purpose is to determine whether life can be sustained in the icy conditions of Europa. The E-THEMIS will be one of nine science instruments that will fly on the spacecraft as part of the exploration.

The instrument will be built on ASU’s main Tempe campus at the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Ball Aerospace will provide the engineering model and flight electronics, and will lead the development of the radiation-hardened micro bolometer (which is used as a detector in a thermal camera), focal plane assembly, and the design and implementation of the system radiation hardening and mitigation.

The team at ASU will be responsible for the mission operations and science data processing. They will also do the design, fabrication, assembly, testing, and calibration of the E-THEMIS.

The E-THEMIS will use a heat detector to help locate active sites - for example, a vent erupting plumes of water into space.

The role E-THEMIS plays in the mission is to act as a heat detector, says Dr. Philip Christensen. It will scan the surface of Europa at high resolution for warm spots.

This is not the first time ASU has been used for space exploration. In 2001, a THEMIS instrument led by ASU was on the Mars Odyssey orbiter to help understand the minerals and landforms on the red planet. Ball Aerospace stated how proud they were to work on such a great program.

We are proud to be part of the Europa mission to support ASU in the development of an instrument for NASA’s search for life beyond Earth in our solar system, said Jim Oschmann, Vice President and General Manager of Ball’s Civil Space and Technology business unit.

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