Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter spacecraft (JIMO) is a Planet Jupiter
robotic explorer. It will orbit the three Jovian moons: Callisto, Ganymede and Europa
between 2015-2020. JIMO is the first
NASA mission using nuclear electric propulsion and the first mission of Project
aim of the mission is:
To explore the three icy moons of Jupiter - Callisto, Ganymede, and
Europa for their potential for sustaining life, to determine if the moons have
subsurface oceans and to locate potential future landing sites by
determining the thicknesses of ice layers.
To investigate the origin and evolution of the moons, determine the
makeup of interior structures, surface features and chemical
composition of the moons.
To study the interactions between entire Jupiter system and
atmospheres and interiors of the moons.
To determine the radiation environments around these moons and the rates at which the moons are weathered by material hitting their surfaces.
5. To develop a nuclear reactor and
show that it can be processed safely and operated reliably in deep
space for long-duration deep space exploration.
is a nuclear reactor-powered
spacecraft. It will use a form of electric propulsion called ion
propulsion, which will allow the spacecraft to orbit each moon,
making thorough observation and mapping possible. The nuclear
reactor will be positioned in the tip of the spacecraft behind a
strong radiation shield protecting sensitive probe equipment. The
scientific instrument suite will be on the opposite tip and electric
thrusters in the middle along with a radiator.
orbiter will have 100 times more usable onboard power from the
nuclear reactor than any of the current interplanetary spacecraft.
This will enable the science instruments to gather more and higher
quality data and to send it back to Earth at much higher data rates.
revolutionary technologies will be required for the spacecraft.
These include advanced electric propulsion, radiation hardened
electronics and materials, power conversion and heat rejection
technology and advancements in telecommunications.
Mass: 18,000 kg
A heavy lift expendable launch vehicle
will launch JIMO into high Earth orbit. The ion propulsion thrusters
will spiral the spacecraft away from Earth and then on its journey to
Jupiter. The nuclear reactor will only be powered up once the probe
is well out of Earth orbit.
After entering orbit around Jupiter, the spacecraft would then orbit Callisto, then Ganymede, and finally Europa.
is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of
Exploration Systems, Washington, D.C. It will be responsible for
delivering the mission module, which would include instruments
procured competitively via a NASA announcement of opportunity.
Northrop Grumman is the contractor for co-designing the spacecraft.
The launch vehicle will be supplied by NASA. The reactor is being
developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Naval
Reactors, in Washington, D.C.
2004, NASA released mission requirements for the Jupiter Icy Moons
Orbiter spacecraft to three potential contractors; Boeing, Lockheed
Martin and Northrop Grumman. The requirements were also the first
product formulated by NASA's new Office of Exploration Systems in
On July 29 2004, Northrop Grumman was been selected by NASA
to develop a nuclear-electric pulsed inductive thruster system for
an approximately $3 million contract, with work to be carried out
over a two-and-a-half-year period. The thruster Northrop Grumman
will develop will be capable of sustained operation at a power level
of 200 kilowatts and an efficiency of 70 percent or higher while
retaining a specific impulse range between 3000 and 10,000 seconds.
Successful development will provide a compact thruster, with a
specific mass of approximately two-to-three kilograms/kilowatt that
would be useful for future NASA interplanetary missions.
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, was selected to advance
the technologies of a lithium-fed magnetoplasmadynamic thruster
system for an approximately $4 million contract, with work to be
performed over three years.
* On 5 August 2004, NASA and the
Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration -
Naval Reactors (NR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that
will lead to the development, design, delivery, and operational
support of civilian space nuclear reactors within NASA's Project
* On 20 September 2004, NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) selected Northrop Grumman as the
contractor for co-designing the proposed Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter
(JIMO) spacecraft. The contract award is for approximately $400
million, covering work through mid-2008.
What is Project
Project Prometheus is a NASA program to
develop nuclear electric power and propulsion systems for
Jimo will have a kilowatt of power available for each individual
instrument, whereas, the Cassini space probe has a small plutonium
unit, with a total power output of 900 Watts for the spacecraft's
entire suite of instruments.
- Callisto, Ganymede and Europa all orbit within the powerful magnetic environment that surrounds
The developed power systems and
technologies will be used in future robotic
and human exploration missions Mars and beyond.
In the past, Nasa's embrace of
nuclear propulsion technologies has sparked opposition and active
protests from anti-nuclear lobbyists.
of Radiation Effects by A. G. Holmes-Siedle,
Effects in Advanced Semiconductor Materials and Devices by
Cor L. Claeys, E. Simoen, C. Claeys
Starflight Handbook : A Pioneer's Guide to Interstellar Travel
(Wiley Science Editions)
by Eugene F. Mallove, Gregory
Space Propulsion Systems by Martin Tajmar
Century and Beyond - Future Space Rockets and Breakthrough
Propulsion by World Spaceflight News
Links and References:
Icy Moons Orbiter: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL). Also the picture source site.
Any comments or suggestions on the
Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter spacecraft (JIMO)
Mission page, click on Contact