Guildford Astronomical Society

Prof Michele Dougherty

Prof Michele DoughertyProf Michele Dougherty

Michele Dougherty is a space physicist who is leading unmanned exploratory missions to Saturn and Jupiter. Amongst other important findings, her work led to the discovery of an atmosphere containing water and hydrocarbons around Saturn’s moon Enceladus — opening up new possibilities in the search for life.

Michele is principal investigator for the magnetometer (MAG) instrument onboard the Cassini spacecraft on its mission to explore Saturn and its neighbourhood. She and her team measured the level and direction of magnetic materials from the atmosphere of Saturn and the moons visited by Cassini. Michele’s innovative use of magnetic field data has therefore had an enormous impact on our understanding of the moons in our Solar System.

Michele was the lead investigator for the European Space Agency’s JUICE spacecraft, scheduled to go into orbit around Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, in 2032, and was recently selected as Principal Investigator for its magnetometer. She received the Royal Society’s 2008 Hughes Medal and a prestigious Research Professorship in 2014, which enables her to focus on her research throughout this important space mission.

DateTalk at GAS meeting
5 May 2016The JUICE spacecraft mission to the Jupiter system.

The European Space Agency mission JUICE (Jupiter Icy moon Explorer), is planned for launch in 2022. Details of the mission will be described, including the payload, planned orbits and the resulting science.

The focus of JUICE is to characterise the conditions that may have led to the emergence of habitable environments among the Jovian icy satellites, with special emphasis on the three ocean-bearing worlds, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto. Ganymede is identified for detailed investigation since it provides a natural laboratory for analysis of the nature, evolution and potential habitability of icy worlds in general, but also because of the role it plays within the system of Galilean satellites, and its unique magnetic and plasma interactions with the surrounding Jovian environment.

The mission will also focus on characterising the diversity of processes in the Jupiter system which may be required in order to provide a stable environment at Ganymede, Europa and Callisto on geologic time scales. Focused studies of Jupiter’s atmosphere, and magnetosphere and their interaction with the Galilean satellites will further enhance our understanding of the evolution and dynamics of the Jovian system.

See Michele's RAS NAM2016 presentation of this talk here [PPTX: 40.0Mb, Members only].