NASA is one step ahead of exploring Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Scientists are certain that the icy moon has a vast ocean beneath its frozen outer shell. To explore the possibilities on this moon, NASA is launching the Europa Clipper Mission. Recently, the team delivered an important component of this mission. The main part of Europa Clipper is now complete. The mission will be equipped with scientific instruments needed to explore Europe in search of life and life-sustaining conditions. It is scheduled to start in October 2024 and explore the giant planet over several years.
The main body of NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft has just been manufactured and shipped to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (jpl) in Southern California. At this center, a team of engineers and technicians will assemble the rest of the mission over the next two years. It is assembled by hand and then tested to see if the mission survives the journey to Jupiter's Europa.
The Europa Clipper's body is 10 feet (3 meters) high and 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide. It is an aluminum cylinder that contains electronics, radios, thermal hoses, cables and the propulsion system. It will be the size of an SUV and will consist of solar arrays and other deployable equipment. If the solar fields are expanded, they can expand to the size of a basketball court. The spacecraft will be equipped with nine scientific instruments. These will collect data on the atmosphere, surface and interior of Europe. This information is used by scientists to estimate the depth and salinity of the ocean and the thickness of the ice crust.
once the mission reaches Jupiter, it will orbit the planet. It will fly by Europa and scan the moon nearly 45 times. After scanning the icy moon, it will report the data back to Earth.
Jordan Evans, Mission Project Manager at JPL said, “It is an exciting time for the entire project team and a major milestone. This delivery brings us one step closer to the launch and scientific investigation of Europa Clipper.”