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Studying Jupiter’s Aurora

Using solid-state detectors, microchannel plates, and foils, the Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument (JEDI) provides a way to characterize the many energetic, charged particles around the giant planet, and how they produce the most powerful aurora in the solar system.

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About the Instrument

Instrument Type

NASA’s Juno mission was built to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. It investigates whether Jupiter has a solid core deep beneath its clouds, maps the planet’s enormous magnetic field, and makes detailed observations of Jupiter’s dancing, powerful auroras.

A detailed, 3D rendering of one of the three JEDI sensors
A detailed, 3D rendering of one of the three JEDI sensors, JEDI-A180, with a “vertical” or “aligned” configuration. The sensor is the round structure to the left, and the electronics box is to the right.

Critical to the success of the mission are the three Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instruments, or JEDI, built by APL to detect the charged particles in the space environment around Jupiter. Similar to the New Horizons Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI) instrument that APL built, JEDI’s three identical sensors measure energetic electrons and ions that fill Jupiter’s massive magnetosphere. The data help space physicists better understand how these particles are accelerated to almost the speed of light in the auroral regions and allow researchers to study how that acceleration and the particles’ interaction with Jupiter’s atmosphere produce the most powerful aurora in the solar system.



Having blasted off in August 2011 and continuing observations to this day, Juno aims to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, our solar system’s largest planet, providing knowledge that not only helps us uncover the fundamental processes and conditions present in our solar system during its infancy, but also providing knowledge that will help us better understand solar systems across the cosmos.


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