Drawing of the planet Jupiter, a small object in the centre of the image, surrounded by schematic magnetic field lines that connect both of its poles. In the equatorial plane, additional lines represent the orbits of some of Jupiters moons. At an angle, a red-colored nebulous torus.

Planetary Plasma Environment

The research group “Planetary Plasma Environment” investigates neutral and charged particles in the vicinity of planets and their moons, including the interaction of surfaces/atmospheres/exospheres and the magnetic fields of planets or moons with the surrounding plasma (solar wind or magnetosphere) in detail.

The group uses particle and field data obtained by instruments onboard currently operating and retired spacecraft which orbit (or have orbited) Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. To this end, the research group have participated in the space missions Cluster, MMS, Mars Express, MAVEN, Galileo, Juno and Cassini. For the future, data from ESA’s mission BepiColombo, which is en-route to Mercury, are expected as well as from ESA’s mission JUICE and NASA’s Europa Clipper, both targeting the Jovian system. The group also uses the output of numerical simulations of the plasma environment of moons and planets to support those measurements. In addition, the group studies the dust distribution in interplanetary space, in particular in cometary dust trails, and interstellar dust in the Solar System.


Jupiter’s magnetosphere and the space plasma environment of the Galilean moons

The Planetary Plasma Environments group (PPE) has a strong heritage in the exploration of planetary magnetospheres and space plasma interactions throughout the solar system. It has contributed instruments to several past missions that flew-by or orbited Jupiter (Galileo, Cassini, Ulysses). The PPE participates in the JUICE mission by contributing hardware and scientific expertise to the Particle Environment Package (PEP). more

Mercury Plasma Environment

A Bepi Colombo Mission to Mercury project (DLR funding) more

Venus: Carbon Ions during Flyby

Carbon ions are escaping into space from the atmosphere of Venus. New measurements by BepiColombo confirm a long-held suspicion. more

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