Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics Public Lecture: A Life in the Day of Outer Solar System Exploration

Ali H. Sulaiman

Ali H. Sulaiman (University of Minnesota)

Jupiter and Saturn’s internal magnetic fields carve out a cavity in the interplanetary medium to form two of the largest magnetospheres in our solar system. Immersed within their magnetic environments are geologically active moons. Two notable examples are Io’s volcanoes at Jupiter and Enceladus’ geysers at Saturn. The activities of these moons drive ebbs and flows of the magnetospheres. One obvious manifestation is powerful polar auroras. Another consequence of this coupling is the opportunity to sound the interior of moons, leading to discoveries of global oceans beneath their surfaces.

In the past decade, NASA’s Juno spacecraft undertook the first polar orbits of Jupiter, and NASA/ESA’s Cassini spacecraft performed its final orbits, which were highly inclined and adjusted to pass through the gap between Saturn’s atmosphere and innermost ring - both providing unprecedented coverage and proximity to their planets.

I will highlight some discoveries enabled by planetary explorers that have revolutionized our view of the solar system, ushering in a new and exciting era for space plasma processes and the question of habitability beyond our planet. I will introduce the future ESA Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (launched in April 2023) and NASA Europa Clipper (launch late 2024), as well as a proposed orbiter to the Uranus system, which was listed as the highest priority during in the 2023-2032 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey.

Registration (Doors open at 6 p.m.; program starts at 7 p.m.)

Start date
Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 6 p.m.
End date
Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 9 p.m.

Coffman Memorial Union
300 Washington Avenue Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455